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 The Berlin School and Beyond 
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Must be a California or Orange County thing.

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Fri May 10, 2013 9:49 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
But Obsessive Compulsive also works.

Occasionally Crass, too.

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Fri May 10, 2013 9:49 pm
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Out of Control?

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Fri May 10, 2013 9:56 pm
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
Out of Control?

Obsessive Compulsive, but rarely Out of Control.

O.C people are too laid back for that.

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Fri May 10, 2013 9:59 pm
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Trip wrote:
I really, really liked Afternoon. No familiarity with Chekhov, mind you. Notice a character asks another to repeat what they had just said, to no reiteration, like three times? What's that about? Maiden used the word ephemeral, and I suppose this is part of that; the film is always in the present moment. Also, it does things with offscreen space that I like but can't connect to any meaningful concept. Like, the dog catching and retrieving the invisible ball in the play, which we only even hear about through dialogue, and all the tight framing throughout where people's heads are cut off and faces talk to disembodied voices, and when the girlfriend throws the hat and we hear it hit something before seeing it resting on the ground moments later, not unlike the ball, however physical when inside the frame. This is all bullshit of course. I like when the girlfriend interrupts the conversation with the boyfriend to rinse her bikini, then returns. It's kinda inexplicable but also he just delivered a truth to her about their relationship and it makes sense that she felt the need to distance herself for just a second. I don't know what I'm saying. The two blond dudes in this are pretty; Hitler was right, I mean. That was the son returning to the lake platform, right? Having overdosed? What was this film about? I really, really liked it.
Oh, hooray! I'm really glad it works apart from the play. Yes, I like the way things are shown so oddly, but always with emotional significance. And there's really something special about the atmosphere in this one, the sense of place... the lake, that beautiful house. It's the only film of hers I've seen where we stay focused on the same group of people the whole time, so the family (extended to the neighbors/friends) gets to really grow on us.
Yes, that's the son swimming at the end. (Red trunks.) In the play, both the suicide and the earlier attempt are unseen, and technically, she sticks to that here. I think that's what makes the scene with the knife so haunting, isn't it? The way we see only her reaction... I can't get it out of my head! :(

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Fri May 10, 2013 10:03 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Oh, hooray! I'm really glad it works apart from the play. Yes, I like the way things are shown so oddly, but always with emotionally significance. And there's really something special about the atmosphere in this one, the sense of place... the lake, that beautiful house. It's the only film of hers I've seen where we stay focused on the same group of people the whole time, so the family (extended to the neighbors/friends) gets to really grow on us.
Yes, that's the son swimming at the end. (Red trunks.) In the play, both the suicide and the earlier attempt are unseen, and technically, she sticks to that here. I think that's what makes the scene with the knife so haunting, isn't it? The way we see only her reaction... I can't get it out of my head! :(

It's emotional for sure, while using the devices of the contemporary "art film" that are fashionably distancing; there's nothing distancing about the close-ups in this film!

It's an effective scene. "What are you doing, harakiri?", jokingly, quickly turns serious in a confusing way. I'm not sure that if I saw someone readying a harakiri gesture I would take it seriously. Because who does that? He doesn't even pierce himself so her reaction is incredible. I guess she knows of his suicidal tendencies? However, I figured the two weren't close and that these tendencies of his had arisen only recently out of ennui.

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Fri May 10, 2013 10:34 pm
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Trip wrote:
It's an effective scene. "What are you doing, harakiri?", jokingly, quickly turns serious in a confusing way. I'm not sure that if I saw someone readying a harakiri gesture I would take it seriously. Because who does that? He doesn't even pierce himself so her reaction is incredible. I guess she knows of his suicidal tendencies? However, I figured the two weren't close and that these tendencies of his had arisen only recently out of ennui.
I think that, no matter what the tensions are between them, she's his mother, she knows him (and she's right). He's doing it because the girl, Agnes, just broke up with him (in the scene with the swimsuit). A lot of confusing words are said, and she almost takes it back, but the gist of it is clear from their demeanor if nothing else.

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Sat May 11, 2013 2:22 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I think that, no matter what the tensions are between them, she's his mother, she knows him (and she's right). He's doing it because the girl, Agnes, just broke up with him (in the scene with the swimsuit). A lot of confusing words are said, and she almost takes it back, but the gist of it is clear from their demeanor if nothing else.

That's funny, I didn't get that impression. I thought that they had simply drifted apart and if anything his loss of feelings towards her were a bit of a surprise to her, and also weren't devastating enough to him to drive suicidal action. But Schanalec makes you work to pick up subtleties so I should watch it again.

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Sat May 11, 2013 9:36 am
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Really liked Windows on Monday; more to follow.

Complements his other stuff so well, too, with Sleeping Sickness being the more ambitious and ultimately the more rewarding.

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Sun May 12, 2013 1:03 am
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Like the earlier Bungalow, Ulrich Köhler's Windows on Monday presents a Germany that is largely detached from the bustling masses. Though, despite its more extreme setting of a Lower Saxony capped with pure white snow, the stains of corporate capitalism are still undoubtedly present. Likewise, the film centers on a protagonist - in this case, Nina, a wife and mother of one - who is somehow adrift; for whatever reason suddenly rudderless. With Bungalow, this aimlessness and lack of purpose is perhaps easily explained by the protagonist's surly age, yet here Nina has the very adult responsibilities of a career as a nurse and a young daughter to think of. She has an identity and purpose, unlike Paul in Bungalow, yet abruptly rejects these in what appears to be a subconscious attempt to recapture some feeling of youth; as illustrated by her eventual retreat to the old family home in the woods, where she falls asleep in a child's bunk bed. Her subsequent ambling through the gloomy forest to a nearby hotel complex and meandering down its carpeted halls is reminiscent of the journeys made by some of the Berlin School's other ghosts; she is invisible, "an alien among this instant gathering of people, but she neither escapes nor seeks any encounters", as Maria Vinogradova notes. There is a brief, somewhat sexual episode in the hotel, in which Nina seems to play at being another woman, but it is the nature of her movements in this part of the film that are key. Her actions are like those of a sleepwalker: slow, but with apparent purpose. An idea that is further developed in Köhler's later Sleeping Sickness, and is neatly prefigured here in the film's opening scene, in which Nina's daughter is fleetingly exposed to rows of comatose patients: "They're dead", she whispers, to which her father replies: "No, they're just sleeping."
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Sun May 12, 2013 4:43 pm
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Everything looks so neat and tasteful in these pictures. I kind of want to break something just to ruin one of the compositions.


Mon May 13, 2013 5:25 am
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Beau wrote:
Everything looks so neat and tasteful in these pictures. I kind of want to break something just to ruin one of the compositions.

It's the Berlin School way: life is so neat and clinical, but all of that must be ruptured.

Next up, Afternoon.

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Mon May 13, 2013 2:44 pm
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I have Windows on Monday and Forest for the Trees still. Something else, I think, too. Probably gonna watch this 720p rip of Clockers tonight instead.

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Mon May 13, 2013 2:47 pm
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Some more on Monday, firstly how it complements Bungalow from David Clarke:
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Again, as in Bungalow, the world of the everyday is portrayed here as largely eventless and directionless. The characters spend a good deal of time asleep: the opening sequence provides a key metaphor in this respect ... the implication here is that life for affluent citizens of contemporary Germany is a kind of death-like sleep, where nothing really happens, and where directionless lives can only be escaped through rare moments of fantasy. Once again, this desire for escape is expressed in spatial terms, in Nina's almost sleepwalk wandering.

And secondly, that aforementioned Maria Vinogradova essay:
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In Berliner Schule films, a good example of the search for identity within the family is embodied in Nina, the protagonist in Montag kommen die Fenster. She has just moved into a new house in the countryside with her family, and takes time off work to spend some time with her husband and daughter. Frieder, her husband, is busy laying tiles and waiting for the new windows that have to be delivered on Monday, and her little daughter is playing in her grandparents’ living room. As Nina comes to pick her up, she hesitates, then turns back and disappears for a few days. She does not do it out of some existential revolt or dissatisfaction (we can compare this to Paula’s reasons in Dorris Dörrie’s Männer already mentioned in this chapter), but because she does not know where she belongs. She wanders like a ghost in the muddy spring forest, and occasionally comes across the newly constructed and uninhabited concrete building of a hotel that precipitates its opening with a glamorous party with guests specially brought by bus to its unfinished settings. Nina is an alien among this instant gathering of people, but she neither escapes nor seeks any encounters – she wanders as a sleepwalker without a particular goal, and she still gravitates to her family, but cannot put the pieces back together as she cannot find herself. The problem does not receive resolution, as Nina’s dilemma is not in her inability to reconcile the outside world and the private circle of her family – cosy but restraining. It is rather her uncertainty of her own role within both of these worlds, or lack of firm sense of identity that does not allow her to adhere to some ready-made model. In a sense, Nina is a tabula rasa; she is able to look, perceive and react, but not evaluate or analyze by passing her sensations through any filters of familiar experiences. This is why the story of the few days of her “journey” through the woods and concrete is devoid of peaks and falls, and the drama of the disintegration of her family occurs quietly and casually, not followed by any catharsis.

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Mon May 13, 2013 4:26 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
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You should upload this sequence on the Vimeo account for The Third Persona because I really wanna see this. It's not on Netflix.


Mon May 13, 2013 4:55 pm
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Beau wrote:
Everything looks so neat and tasteful in these pictures. I kind of want to break something just to ruin one of the compositions.
It's kind of funny that you say this after this film in particular, because I'm pretty sure this one is the least "neat" and ordered that we've seen. The home life Nina escapes from is visual (and emotional) chaos, and there's no order or sense in her wanderings either.

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It is rather her uncertainty of her own role within both of these worlds, or lack of firm sense of identity that does not allow her to adhere to some ready-made model. In a sense, Nina is a tabula rasa; she is able to look, perceive and react, but not evaluate or analyze by passing her sensations through any filters of familiar experiences. This is why the story of the few days of her “journey” through the woods and concrete is devoid of peaks and falls, and the drama of the disintegration of her family occurs quietly and casually, not followed by any catharsis.
I like this. But it also points out a weakness, as far as I'm concerned. Nina is a "tabula rasa," but in a very different way than the Nina of Ghosts, for example, someone whose searching is the surface, with a tragic history and real needs just underneath. Köhler's Nina doesn't seem to be haunted by loss or need or past. She's like an amnesiac. Maybe that's an accurate portrayal of a type of depression. But, for us anyway, it's frustratingly shallow. And the lack of catharsis or progress means all that dreariness has no purpose. Why did we watch?

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Mon May 13, 2013 11:27 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
It's kind of funny that you say this after this film in particular, because I'm pretty sure this one is the least "neat" and ordered that we've seen. The home life Nina escapes from is visual (and emotional) chaos, and there's no order or sense in her wanderings either.


The pictures don't communicate that, and I haven't seen most of these films, so... I blame Jedi, as always.

I was referring to all the films shown here, though, not the last one in particular. That was just chance.


Tue May 14, 2013 12:53 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
It's the Berlin School way: life is so neat and clinical, but all of that must be ruptured.


I suppose. My reality in Buenos Aires is: life is chaotic and noisy, so I have to hide somewhere neat and clinical, namely my apartment, which isn't very neat either, so I watch Berlin School to remind me of how messy I am.

I guess I respond more to something like Tsai's The Hole. Mostly because my neighbor keeps hammering at my wall. Nobody knows why. "He's doing a project," I've been told. Huh.

Berlin School movies I've seen: Petzold's Dreileben entry, Barbara, Jerichow, Afternoon, and Marseille. Barbara and Afternoon I'm lukewarm on. The rest are great. Marseille is clearly the best film ever.

EDIT: Reading Maiden's and Trip's Afternoon conversation, I figure I must have missed something. Apparently, it wasn't emotionally distancing, but I'm pretty sure I was physically on Mars while watching that movie. Which has merit, I suppose. I mean, space travel. I guess I'll give it another chance.


Tue May 14, 2013 1:06 am
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Will watch more of these Berlin School movies, though. I need home decorating tips. No, seriously. I like what I've seen.


Tue May 14, 2013 1:11 am
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Beau wrote:
EDIT: Reading Maiden's and Trip's Afternoon conversation, I figure I must have missed something. Apparently, it wasn't emotionally distancing, but I'm pretty sure I was physically on Mars while watching that movie. Which has merit, I suppose. I mean, space travel. I guess I'll give it another chance.
I was just coming in here to say this! (Not the Mars part, though, just the 'not emotionally distancing' part.) I do hope you try it again. Are you a Chekhov fan?

Beau wrote:
I was referring to all the films shown here, though, not the last one in particular. That was just chance.
I knew this. It was just a coincidence. :)

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Tue May 14, 2013 1:25 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Are you a Chekhov fan?


Not at all. Though the fact I haven't read anything by him might contribute to that.


Tue May 14, 2013 1:29 am
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The emotion (or psychologising) of Afternoon is somehow both right in the centre of the screen and also hidden in the unseen and the generally unstated. I don't think it's emotional, and I didn't feel moved watching it, but it's frequently involved with at least watching them think and feel, even if it's ambiguous to us or even a brick wall.

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Tue May 14, 2013 1:44 am
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Trip wrote:
I don't think it's emotional, and I didn't feel moved watching it, but it's frequently involved with at least watching them think and feel, even if it's ambiguous to us or even a brick wall.
It gets to me in the same (mostly intellectual) place as all of these Berlin School films. I empathize with a lot of the characters, but don't feel a lot of emotion. When I say that it's 'warm,' I mean that the characters demonstrate a lot of real affection for each other, even if it's off-center or unsaid.

Beau wrote:
Not at all. Though the fact I haven't read anything by him might contribute to that.
I'm surprised! I love him. But I seem to have a thing for Russians.

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Tue May 14, 2013 4:37 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I'm surprised! I love him. But I seem to have a thing for Russians.


My literary education was good but spotty. I've been filling up all the blind spots myself ever since I got my English degree. What I read of Russian Literature is mostly 19th Century short stories. You know, Gogol and some Dostoevsky, like White Nights.


Tue May 14, 2013 6:04 am
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ADD wrote:
You should upload this sequence on the Vimeo account for The Third Persona because I really wanna see this. It's not on Netflix.

Good idea, thanks!


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Wed May 15, 2013 3:27 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I like this. But it also points out a weakness, as far as I'm concerned. Nina is a "tabula rasa," but in a very different way than the Nina of Ghosts, for example, someone whose searching is the surface, with a tragic history and real needs just underneath. Köhler's Nina doesn't seem to be haunted by loss or need or past. She's like an amnesiac. Maybe that's an accurate portrayal of a type of depression. But, for us anyway, it's frustratingly shallow. And the lack of catharsis or progress means all that dreariness has no purpose. Why did we watch?

See, I don't think it needs to be that dramatic. Of course, we've all become used to Petzold's Nina (there must be something about that name) whose characters are usually haunted and ultimately defined by some kind of shadowy past that is never fully explained yet is always there, lurking just out of frame. As a "tabula rasa", Nina from Ghosts seems more fitting in that she has no home and no parental figures to influence her, but why should these characters always be in some way flawed? It's almost like any kind of alienation or depression cannot be justified otherwise, which I completely disagree with. Köhler's Nina may not be haunted by a questionable past or restricted by a difficult present, but why should that make her any less deep? If anything, she's simply further down the line than most of the characters Hoss portrays for Petzold, in that she successfully built her a life for herself. Should that automatically invalidate her feelings of alienation or depression? Of course not. If anything, she has more reason to feel so, given her somewhat humdrum existence.

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Wed May 15, 2013 4:27 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Good idea, thanks!

What a tease, now I gotta see the whole thing!


Wed May 15, 2013 4:30 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
See, I don't think it needs to be that dramatic. Of course, we've all become used to Petzold's Nina (there must be something about that name) whose characters are usually haunted and ultimately defined by some kind of shadowy past that is never fully explained yet is always there, lurking just out of frame. As a "tabula rasa", Nina from Ghosts seems more fitting in that she has no home and no parental figures to influence her, but why should these characters always be in some way flawed? It's almost like any kind of alienation or depression cannot be justified otherwise, which I completely disagree with. Köhler's Nina may not be haunted by a questionable past or restricted by a difficult present, but why should that make her any less deep? If anything, she's simply further down the line than most of the characters Hoss portrays for Petzold, in that she successfully built her a life for herself. Should that automatically invalidate her feelings of alienation or depression? Of course not. If anything, she has more reason to feel so, given her somewhat humdrum existence.
An ordinary life is a reason for depression? I'd trade places with her in a heartbeat. :(

I don't need flaws or drama, and I don't need her feelings to be justified, whatever that means. But we never saw inside her at all, never got even a fleeting moment of emotion or understanding. Even her poor schlub of a husband had a little hope in his life. Nina was just spinning off into space. I guess there's nothing wrong with that. I shouldn't have called it a weakness. It's just too dreary for me.


Edit: Hey, nine out of the last 18 movies I've watched have been Berlin School!

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Wed May 15, 2013 5:56 am
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Sommer '04 is the tragi-comic story of a Lolita-like 12-year-old and the havoc she wreaks on her boyfriend's family. With its steamy plot and brisk tempo (and all that sailing), this one stands apart from most of the Berlin School films I've seen. Still, it reminded me a bit of Jerichow, another sun-drenched tale of byzantine motives and betrayals. And its claustrophobic focus on the immediate players is familiar. (Do we even see any other faces until the very end?) It's all very entertaining, anyway. The Americanized stranger, the suspicious mother, the hilariously hostile son—these are good characters, believably flawed and conflicted as their relationships wax and wane with the tides.

About that ending...
Maybe I'm missing something, but wouldn't most married people past the honeymoon phase feel a little hypocritical saying they are "perfectly happy"? Certainly it's rubbing salt in the wound for Miriam, who was definitely guilty of wishing Livia out of the way. But, that doesn't seem to account for LEAVES' wicked glee. Do people actually think she murdered Livia?

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Wed May 15, 2013 11:58 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I don't need flaws or drama, and I don't need her feelings to be justified, whatever that means. But we never saw inside her at all, never got even a fleeting moment of emotion or understanding. Even her poor schlub of a husband had a little hope in his life. Nina was just spinning off into space. I guess there's nothing wrong with that. I shouldn't have called it a weakness. It's just too dreary for me.

Oh, far too dreary! But then, so is her existence, no? Which is why she detaches herself from it in the first place. Besides, I don't think the dreariness necessarily makes it uninteresting. I love the scene where she goes to pick the child up, sees her through the window and then just backs away. There's no drama, no domestic argument or build-up of stress resulting in her storming out; it's just a quiet decision she makes on her own, in the dark and seemingly on a whim, to simply drop all these responsibilities and wander a path of her own. I also like how she is drawn towards he bright lights of the hotel complex, and then wanders its grounds in the way a kid might.

Shieldmaiden wrote:
Edit: Hey, nine out of the last 18 movies I've watched have been Berlin School!

Quite frightening, isn't it? I even said "klar" in response to something the other day. Help!

Thanks again for contributing! :heart:

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Wed May 15, 2013 4:32 pm
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Beau wrote:
I suppose. My reality in Buenos Aires is: life is chaotic and noisy, so I have to hide somewhere neat and clinical, namely my apartment, which isn't very neat either, so I watch Berlin School to remind me of how messy I am.

I guess I respond more to something like Tsai's The Hole. Mostly because my neighbor keeps hammering at my wall. Nobody knows why. "He's doing a project," I've been told. Huh.

Given my limited exposure to Buenos Aires, and given that the entirety of this limited exposure is merely to Buenos Aires in its filmic form, this only reminds me of that scene in Medianeras. You know, the part where the guy gets permission to knock a new window into the main wall of his apartment building. Perhaps this is the kind of "project" your neighbour has embarked upon. Do you live that high up? If so, couldn't you borrow his hammer?

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

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Wed May 15, 2013 6:30 pm
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Post Re: The Berlin School and Beyond

JediMoonShyne wrote:
Given my limited exposure to Buenos Aires, and given that the entirety of this limited exposure is merely Buenos Aires in its filmic form, this only reminds me of that scene in Medianeras. You know, the part where the guy gets permission to knock a new window into the main wall of his apartment building. Perhaps this is the kind of "project" your neighbour has embarked upon. Do you live that high up? If so, couldn't you borrow his hammer?

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Unlikely, since we both live on 1st floors and, if he were to hammer a hole into the wall, he'd inevitably create a window into my apartment. Also, I don't recall the protagonists of Medianeras spending two years on their window project.


Wed May 15, 2013 11:35 pm
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Funny story, my girlfriend got so angry at the hammering one morning, she stood up on our bed and started hammering back with a water bottle, indenting the wall. Our neighbor did not stop, however.


Wed May 15, 2013 11:41 pm
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Beau wrote:
Funny story, my girlfriend got so angry at the hammering one morning, she stood up on our bed and started hammering back with a water bottle, indenting the wall. Our neighbor did not stop, however.

Aren't there rules for that kind of thing? I know that over here you can only work on an apartment in a residential building at certain hours of the day.

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Thu May 16, 2013 12:34 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Aren't there rules for that kind of thing? I know that over here you can only work on an apartment in a residential building at certain hours of the day.


Oh, there's rules. We contacted our building's administration, so they can contact the other building's administration. I'm still hearing the hammering, however, though lately he seems to have circumscribed himself to noon hours, which is still annoying, because I work at home, but it's better than 8 AM on Sundays.


Thu May 16, 2013 2:02 am
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Jedi, where should I go next? Here's what I have bookmarked at the moment, but I'm open to suggestions.

A Map of the Heart
I Am Guilty
Hierankl (no subs)
Places in Cities
Wolfsburg
Yella

By the way, you won't mind if I link to some of my posts here in my Voyage thread, will you?

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Thu May 16, 2013 4:13 am
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Places in Cities! Wolfsburg is solid; if you like Petzold, you'll enjoy. I have I Am Guilty dl-ed, so lemme know when you watch so we can sync (though I'm not sure I can see anything this week...)


Thu May 16, 2013 4:15 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Jedi, where should I go next? Here's what I have bookmarked at the moment, but I'm open to suggestions.

It's really up to you!

I'm planning on doing Afternoon and Places in Cities next, but then I'm not sure. I Am Guilty could be an option, as elixir says, but I'd also love to discuss those two Petzolds with you.

Also, I like the look of these:

Gisela | Isabelle Stever, 2005
Schlaefer | Benjamin Heisenberg, 2005
Sonja | Kirsi Liimatainen, 2006
Mondkalb | Sylke Enders, 2007
Die Liebe der Kinder | Franz Müller, 2009
Barriere | Andreas Kleinert, 2010
Totem | Jessica Krummache, 2011

Shieldmaiden wrote:
By the way, you won't mind if I link to some of my posts here in my Voyage thread, will you?

Of course not!

Feel free to include anything else you find, too. That way I can add it all to the opening post.

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

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Thu May 16, 2013 3:30 pm
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Angela Schanelec's Afternoon opens on the raising of curtain; a brief static shot of a stage bathed in a soft afternoon light, upon and behind which people are milling around purposefully. Eventually, others disperse the stage to leave a young woman who fusses with her bag, before fussing with the ears of a sleepy dog, while those in the background look on in mild interest. It is a curious scene, and one that appears to share some twinship with the lengthier, somehow more grueling rehearsal scenes that appear towards the end of Schanelec's earlier Marseille. One assumes that this is Schanelec, who also acts here and has a history in the theatre, referring to the story's Checkhovian roots, but also commenting on the same idea raised previously by the casting and dubbing in Thomas Arslan's A Fine Day about playing a role in society. Just as with the story that Deniz recounts while auditioning, here the line between acting and reality is blurred; the figure on stage never seems to be in character, yet is always conscious of those watching, while those watching seem to do so distractedly. That said, Afternoon is infinitely more comparable to Arslan's later Ferien, which was was also released in 2007 and also features the slow withering of family relationships over the course of one long, sweltering summer in and around a scenic lakeside property. It is precisely the calm, idyllic nature of these films that allows for such an effective, amplified portrait of these bourgeois families and their typically self-centered flaws. As Andrew Tracy notes, the films are very similar in both mood and feeling with "rigourously observed codes of behaviour that articulate, rather than hide, the resentments that lie festering", and an "enveloping calmness which allows the ever-present darkness and pain to emerge with terrifying clarity and force."
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“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Fri May 17, 2013 3:31 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
The Americanized stranger, the suspicious mother, the hilariously hostile son—these are good characters, believably flawed and conflicted as their relationships wax and wane with the tides.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that the son is "hilariously hostile"; as I mentioned before, he often seemed to me to be the most rounded character of all, given his typically adolescent outbursts and antisocial attitude. What I found more interesting, though perhaps somewhat less realistic, is that Livia - our Lolita - appears to have no effect on him whatsoever, despite clearly attracting both the older male characters. I could almost understand if he was slightly younger and more interested in video games than girls, but he often seems more mature and sure of himself than the adults. It's like, he sees what kind of girl she is, and loses interest immediately, whereas you might expect a loner of that age to be less at ease around girls, I don't know. Also, I found the Bill character rather weak: he's the kind of smouldering, handsome neighbour that would probably interest a bored housewife like Miriam, but I doubt his type would end up marrying one of his conquests.

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

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Fri May 17, 2013 5:29 pm
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Oh, I think the son is totally interested in Livia, that's why he's so sullen when she seems interested in Bill, and why he almost appears happy when they make up. He's just very, very determined not to show emotion... Bill is a mess emotionally (a big part of his attraction for Miriam) and I agree, he'd never marry her. I think we're supposed to gather that the traumatic events resulted in an uncharacteristic bond.

What does Tracy mean by "rigorously observed codes of behavior" in Afternoon? Uno does have some clearly defined rules, it's true. :P

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Fri May 17, 2013 9:07 pm
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I've seen Afternoon, but so long ago that I remember only images without context.

I watched Geschwister, which was very good. The early Arslans I've seen feel very authentic and free of superfluous nonsense, and I like that.


Sat May 18, 2013 1:38 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
What does Tracy mean by "rigorously observed codes of behavior" in Afternoon? Uno does have some clearly defined rules, it's true. :P

You and your board games, eh? (Psst, I got the reference this time.)

More of the passage:

Quote:
One need only compare Arslan’s Vacation (2007), a considerable improvement over his aforementioned first film in the program, and Angela Schanelec’s Afternoon (2006) to see this principle in action. Both depicting jury-rigged families slowly disintegrating during blissful summers at lakeside houses, the two films share an almost identical palette of textures and moods: the limpid sounds of wind and water, the rigourously observed codes of behaviour that articulate, rather than hide, the resentments that lie festering, an enveloping calmness which allows the ever-present darkness and pain to emerge with terrifying clarity and force. Arslan makes excellent use of these tools throughout, yet ultimately the conjugal rift at the film’s centre is rather clearcut; despite the evocative textures in which it plays out and the de rigeur abrupt/open conclusion, the film’s emotional and narrative engine finds its terminus solely within the film and not in our troubled minds afterwards.

Conversely, Schanelec with Afternoon has pushed even further the mysterious, fractured aesthetic of her earlier Marseille (2004), a film perched precariously between fascinating and bewildering (though certainly favouring the former). Where that earlier film—about an itinerant Berlin-based photographer (Maren Eggert) touring the titular ville in an effort to leave her hometown baggage behind—willfully ruptures its deceptively simple narrative late in the game, demanding that we scour its surfaces for meaning absent the previously accessible (if tight-lipped) psyches of the characters, Afternoon effects a blending of the two. Trained on the stage prior to her studies at the dffb—the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin, which also yielded Petzold and Arslan—Schanelec not only incorporates theatre into her films (both Marseille and Afternoon feature stage rehearsals at key points) but combines its lessons with the distinctive cinematic grammar she is progressively developing.

In contrast to the brusque, functional scripting of many of the other Berlin Scholars, Schanelec crafts layered, winding dialogue that, when combined with the intensely close framings of her actors, exerts an almost mesmerizing pull. As she studies a familial clan of artists almost nonchalantly coming apart at the seams, Schanelec’s exacting, rigorous, exciting filmmaking reaches beyond individual psychopathology or canned domestic drama to touch on the enormous, dark, inexorable forces which those fictions have been invented to contain. Though there is almost zero stylistic similarity, it’s nevertheless appropriate to contend that Schanelec is touching upon Bergman territory here, using the unique sensitivities of her artist-protagonists to probe the outer limits of human potential and frailty.

So yeah, he seems to be referencing, once again, the roles these characters play - or, are expected to play. True feelings are never exposed, as a rule, but the nature of the film allows us glimpse them in the behaviour of each character; the body language, facial expressions and particularly the use of words. Though, as I'd like to touch on, hopefully at length while writing about Places in Cities (which I just watched, and loved), Schanelec often frames her characters in a way in which we have no access to the face and the feelings its expressions might betray. Consequently, it becomes more about things like voice intonation, hand gestures, etc., and we actively alter our own viewing process in order to better absorb them.

I'm not sure about the Bergman thing, though!

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Sat May 18, 2013 5:32 am
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Hmm. OK, I agree with most of that. I still have a problem with the phrase "rigorously observed codes of behavior." The family seemed pretty open with each other, or, at least, as open as you can be within Schanelec's roundabout dialogue. There's a lot of tacit affection and explicit exasperation, but, above all, they're ruthlessly honest. Two key conversations boil down to, more or less, "I don't find you interesting anymore."

I'll watch Places in Cities tomorrow. :)

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Sat May 18, 2013 1:57 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I'll watch Places in Cities tomorrow. :)

Can't wait!

I'd say it prefigures Marseille in many ways, what with the protagonist crossing the border and all:

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Also, I can now see some of it in The Days Between, too. The cafeteria!

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

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Sat May 18, 2013 2:30 pm
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Trip wrote:
Notice a character asks another to repeat what they had just said, to no reiteration, like three times What's that about

I picked up on this, too. The dialogue is all very interrogative in general, with characters often flat out demanding What?, When?, How?, Why?, or Where? of one another rather than pursuing more subtle conversational avenues to discover the things they wish to know. In that sense, I suppose Schanelec is somehow quick to betray what her characters desire, rather than hiding it behind acceptable social behaviour. But yes, the whole reiteration thing seems to be Schanelec illustrating the general breakdown in communication and, perhaps, increasing lack of trust between members of the family.

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Sat May 18, 2013 4:37 pm
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Maybe they're all hard of hearing.


Sun May 19, 2013 12:02 am
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That's it.

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Sun May 19, 2013 1:59 am
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Beau wrote:
Maybe they're all hard of hearing.

What?

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Sun May 19, 2013 3:15 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
What?
Haha. Berlin School humor.

Everyone ignoring Trip's question was pretty funny, too. Until Jedi ruined it.

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Sun May 19, 2013 6:04 am
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