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 The Berlin School and Beyond 
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In Ulrich Köhler's Bungalow, a disapproving older generation is represented by protagonist Paul's brother, who hounds and berates his younger sibling at every turn; here, in Christoph Hochhäusler's I Am Guilty, it is instead protagonist Armin's parents, and the long line of white-collar interviewers that the disillusioned youth is encouraged to submit to. In one telling scene, we see Armin under the hood of a neighbour's car offering mechanical advice, only for his father to turn up and lead him away from such blue-collar diversions. The automobile is something of a recurring symbol in the work of Hochhäusler (also the Berlin School at large, as has been discussed), who opens up I Am Guilty with Armin first to arrive at the scene of an accident. It is a scene that also introduces us to the road as an important transitory element; as David Clarke notes, to "provide a metaphor for the protagonist's attempt to appropriate a space for himself within an oppressive social order". As with Paul in Bungalow, we often witness Armin walking along roads or around other transitory spaces; he dawdles through supermarkets, attempts to connect with a girl on a bus, and vandalises a motorcycle in a multi-storey car park. He also lingers, like a ghost, in the restrooms of motorway service stations, where he pleases bikers with submissive sexual acts (though these could just as easily be part of his imagination) or else smears graffiti from tiles. This is "The Invisible Man trying to leave traces", says Julian Hanich; a young man trying desperately to "become visible among all the ghosts of modern life". While the final scenes of I Am Guilty are just as ambiguous as they are in Bungalow, one gets the impression here, too, that the protagonist has scored some kind of minor victory; that Armin has, at least for now, escaped both his father's plans and the expectations of a middle-class society.
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Tue Jul 09, 2013 7:58 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
It's catching on!

JediMoonShyne wrote:
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i used to think it was stupid and make fun of you behind your back (no pun intended) cuz any shot that isnt POV (1st person) or direct to camera (2nd person) is technically third person but now whenever i see it i think it's magical and you're so right


Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:29 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I Am Guilty is the Berlin School's answer to Gus Van Sant, as we follow an alienated teen through his ennui-plagued existence. The dark humor of his hapless encounters keeps it engaging, despite his hard-to-read face. There's some Tsai here, too (I thought of Rebels of the Neon God), with the aimless wandering, the motorcycle vandalism, and odd sexual fantasies. I suppose it's possible that the ending is a fantasy, too? Either way, it's a rather cynical punchline, which I found a bit disappointing. Has anyone else seen this one?

Oddly enough, the motorcycle vandalism and public toilet encounters didn't lead me to think of Tsai, but yes, there's some Van Sant here. Going through German criticism of the film, I've seen Hochhäusler's young protagonist compared to just about everyone, from the titular character in Haneke's Benny to Antoine Doinel; from Plenzdorf's Young W. to Salinger's Holden Caulfield. I like these literary references, and how they suggest that these feelings of youthful disaffection are not specific to the time and place. That, despite how critical many of these directors are of modern day German society and its treatment of a younger generation, the situation is far from hopeless. But yes, as far as comparisons go, I Am Guilty could easily be considered a companion piece to Köhler's Bungalow.
hirtho wrote:
i used to think it was stupid and make fun of you behind your back (no pun intended) cuz any shot that isnt POV (1st person) or direct to camera (2nd person) is technically third person but now whenever i see it i think it's magical and you're so right

Ha! I've still no idea whether or not you're being sarcastic, but yes, it is magical! Unfortunately, so many of the greatest exploiters of such perspective are too reliant on the hand-held aesthetic to provide much in the way of neat screen-shots. The Dardennes, for example - those inconsiderate Belgians! Speaking of which, I've just about exhausted most of the directors I know who like to shoot over the shoulder or from the third-person perspective, so any suggestions (or submissions) would be very welcome.

Please, help!

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Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:45 pm
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not sarcastic at all! but so far i'm just following your lead on them but will watch out

i remember In the Family had a motif of behind-the-head shots of the protagonist seated at desks/tables, but I'm unsure if I've seen you go for seated (or stationary camera?) - yours seem to be walking/standing w/ handheld camera, correct? Is that part of it?

If seated/stationary is OK then Vivre sa vie and some other 60s Godards have that


Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:28 am
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hirtho wrote:
i remember In the Family had a motif of behind-the-head shots of the protagonist seated at desks/tables, but I'm unsure if I've seen you go for seated (or stationary camera?) - yours seem to be walking/standing w/ handheld camera, correct? Is that part of it?

If seated/stationary is OK then Vivre sa vie and some other 60s Godards have that

Yes, Godard and particularly the back of Karina's head. <3

Will grab In the Family and check it out!

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Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:43 pm
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In her director's statement for Totem , director Jessica Krummacher talks about how time and place are not clearly defined in the film, and how her characters can be seen to live "enclosed within their everyday routines without much motivation or thought". It is an interesting choice of words, and one that very much reflects the intentions of the Berlin School, despite Krummacher studying in Munich and despite Totem being the product of her final year of study. Routine, and a conspicuous dependency upon it, is a typical trait of older characters within the films we've seen and discussed thus far, but perhaps more integral to the Berlin School is this idea of living an enclosed, insular life. With Totem, Krummacher successfully develops this idea by physically surrounding her characters at all times, in a similar but perhaps more extreme manner to that seen in Matthias Luthardt's Pingpong. The high, manicured hedges that surround the garden are used to represent the rigid confines of the lives of those who reside within; whereas the narrow residential walkways and shortcuts that exist outside the garden are always lined with thick foliage, fences, or concrete walls so as to add to this feeling of claustrophobia and ensuring that there is really no escaping this petty bourgeois nightmare. Similarly, the individual members of the family featured in Totem are narrow-minded themselves, taking it in turns to stain the pure white form of protagonist Fiona (the hired help) with their deepest prejudices and anxieties. In the film's opening scene, as Andreea Dobre puts it, they seem like little more than a gleeful group of kids, "unwrapping a toy found under the Christmas tree". In the manner of a silent but loyal slave, Fiona is not only worked to the bone but also exploited to fulfill any and all human needs: a dance partner, a consoling shoulder to cry on, and finally a body to take out one's sexual frustrations on.
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Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:49 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
I like these literary references, and how they suggest that these feelings of youthful disaffection are not specific to the time and place. That, despite how critical many of these directors are of modern day German society and its treatment of a younger generation, the situation is far from hopeless.
It's critical of him, too, though, right? But, yes, everyone is failing him. The one thing he's good at it is fixing the neighbor's car. But that's not even allowed to be considered as a job, apparently.

EDIT: Do you have Meetings with Anna, yet? I don't have the dvd anymore, but

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Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:47 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
EDIT: Do you have Meetings with Anna, yet?

I haven't, but I'll grab it as soon as I can!

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Sun Jul 14, 2013 5:32 pm
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Just watched Cycling the Frame in anticipation of watching The Invisible Frame later tonight, really loved it - will write abt both in a few...


Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:55 am
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Cycling the Frame | Cynthia Beatt | 1988 | GER | 27 min | 2013-07-15 | AVI | Home, Junius Heights | LOVED
The Invisible Frame | Cynthia Beatt | 2009 | GER | 60 min | 2013-07-15 | WMV3 | Home, Junius Heights | LOVED

Like a more earnest and poetic Beaver Trilogy or One Way Boogie Woogie or Gus Van Sant's Psycho, the time lapse revisit deals in specters and absences, in the uncanny and decayed, the aged. In both, Tilda voices her inner processing of her travel, the first time in sing-song absurdity and practical complaints, the second time more detached and mature and informed by others' experience and empathy for their well-being. Often-times the second film shows her just as horrified with the decrepitude of unification as that of the wall's separation, the graffitied and smashed up project housing as canvas of dissatisfaction substituting for the wall itself, if they don't have one they'll turn on the other, the emotions remain no matter the geographic structuring, but it's important to note that the one follows the other and it can't be understood outside of that context. There's a great rhyming image between the two involving binoculars, the first a cartoony oversized tourist piece, the second the genuine article inside a guard tower which she spends the first film pondering, waving to, wondering about. Then the second film sees her continue out into the more rural areas she visited in the first film which were then depopulated and now are packed with life, as the city she returns to, more freeflowing than in the first film. She feels in the first film that West Berliners do not think about or discuss the wall, and in the second film we see thoughts and discussions contained in tour guides or historical recountings, as opposed to firsthand experiences, which instead are now artistic pursuits beautifying the city or performing mundane rural routines carrying on life as lived prior to and during the wall. She is looking for the differences and finds them in her looking but the film and a nagging suspicion for her shows us how the differences might be beside the point and unnoticeable if not being looked for.


Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:40 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
The banner image is from Above Us Only Sky, which is worth seeing if you haven't.
Ooh, I really liked this. Definitely worth seeing! I'll write something later today.

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Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:57 pm
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Above Us Only Sky is lovely. Sandra Hüller, so good in Madonnen, is heartbreaking here, as a woman blindsided by the sudden death of her husband. It's a story that has resonance for me, and her intensity makes it extra hard to watch. The sound, too, especially the sparse, moody score, injects a strange feeling of unreality at the beginning, and, later, adds anxiety and anguish. We get pulled under, ourselves, as Martha struggles to hold on to her sanity, clinging blindly to the one man who might be willing to forgo questions, to follow her lead for a while. Picking up a stranger on a city bus may be dangerous grief therapy, but, in context, it's more about emotional truth, mirrored images rather than realism. As in the games they play to learn about each other, there's an element of danger, of delusion. Yet, in the end, those games become a narrow bridge of safety, of hope for a future when her grief will not have passed, but simply become bearable.


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Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:27 am
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I need to get back to these and might watch that one next. It sounds great.

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Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:35 pm
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charulata wrote:
I need to get back to these and might watch that one next. It sounds great.
Pretty sure you'll like it.

Oh, and I forgot to mention... Marseilles figures prominently in this one as a goal, a place where the sun shines and people are happy. Germans. There's the whole world to choose from, and they're like, "If only I could move next door."

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:03 am
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:-/


Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:44 pm
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hirtho wrote:
Loved how the mom (and dad, parents in general) are the ghosts doing the haunting over the kids' lives/identity (I don't remember Yella much, does it have that aspect too?).
I just watched Yella, and, no, parents are not the ghosts in that one (unfortunately). I thought its gimmick was lame, and fit so jarringly with the rest of the film, which showcased his strengths and was quite interesting. Someone who loves Yella should come tell me why I'm wrong, though.

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Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:00 am
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Yella is hella inferior to Ghosts and State


Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:13 am
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OK, I'll try The State I Am In next.

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Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:17 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Above Us Only Sky is lovely. Sandra Hüller, so good in Madonnen, is heartbreaking here, as a woman blindsided by the sudden death of her husband. It's a story that has resonance for me, and her intensity makes it extra hard to watch. The sound, too, especially the sparse, moody score, injects a strange feeling of unreality at the beginning, and, later, adds anxiety and anguish. We get pulled under, ourselves, as Martha struggles to hold on to her sanity, clinging blindly to the one man who might be willing to forgo questions, to follow her lead for a while. Picking up a stranger on a city bus may be dangerous grief therapy, but, in context, it's more about emotional truth, mirrored images rather than realism. As in the games they play to learn about each other, there's an element of danger, of delusion. Yet, in the end, those games become a narrow bridge of safety, of hope for a future when her grief will not have passed, but simply become bearable.

A little belated, but glad you enjoyed this one. Excellent descriptive work, too; "blindsided" is the perfect summation, since she really has the rug pulled out from under her feet, before going through all the stages that one would associate with such sudden emotional trauma: confusion, denial, anger, etc. It's been a while since I watched it, but I remember it recalling a handful of films at the time, including Martel's The Headless Woman for how she smiles through it all and attempts to suppress all these feelings. Also, Trier's Breaking the Waves, for how she kind of careens off the tracks and how happiness is replaced by a defiant will to regain it; there's also a theme of supplication in both films, I think. How do you feel Above Us Only Sky fits in with the rest of the Berlin School films, if it at all? There were certain shots in it that really reminded me of stuff we've seen here already, particularly the one where she's standing alone in the middle of the street with the linear perspective, and where they're framed by the window that's full of foliage - both of which can be seen in the trailer. Also, there's Marseille as a site of escapism...


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Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:25 pm
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hirtho wrote:
Like a more earnest and poetic Beaver Trilogy or One Way Boogie Woogie or Gus Van Sant's Psycho, the time lapse revisit deals in specters and absences, in the uncanny and decayed, the aged. In both, Tilda voices her inner processing of her travel, the first time in sing-song absurdity and practical complaints, the second time more detached and mature and informed by others' experience and empathy for their well-being. Often-times the second film shows her just as horrified with the decrepitude of unification as that of the wall's separation, the graffitied and smashed up project housing as canvas of dissatisfaction substituting for the wall itself, if they don't have one they'll turn on the other, the emotions remain no matter the geographic structuring, but it's important to note that the one follows the other and it can't be understood outside of that context. There's a great rhyming image between the two involving binoculars, the first a cartoony oversized tourist piece, the second the genuine article inside a guard tower which she spends the first film pondering, waving to, wondering about. Then the second film sees her continue out into the more rural areas she visited in the first film which were then depopulated and now are packed with life, as the city she returns to, more freeflowing than in the first film. She feels in the first film that West Berliners do not think about or discuss the wall, and in the second film we see thoughts and discussions contained in tour guides or historical recountings, as opposed to firsthand experiences, which instead are now artistic pursuits beautifying the city or performing mundane rural routines carrying on life as lived prior to and during the wall. She is looking for the differences and finds them in her looking but the film and a nagging suspicion for her shows us how the differences might be beside the point and unnoticeable if not being looked for.

Great stuff. I love that you pointed out how Swinton's approach and behaviour differs so markedly between the two films; how she's almost like a wandering free spirit in the first, and a pensive, understanding adult in the second, and how that change echoes the changes in her surroundings. I don't recall, reading up on the films, whether or not it was a planned two-film deal, or whether that was decided later, but there is certainly something homage-like about the latter film; the recreation of certain shots, to go with the revisiting of certain locations. I like the dwelling upon these locations, too. There is a notable increase in activity in the rural areas, as you say; as though the removal of this symbol of oppression has allowed life to flourish. Conversely, nature can be seen to have thrived in more urban areas, with some of the dull concrete structures seen in the first film now partly covered by greenery. Another aspect of the film that I really enjoyed, especially with the second one, is how Beatt's lingering camera allows things to happen, and almost encourages interactions between Swinton and her surroundings to occur: for example, when scene where that guy on the bike wolf-whistles to her.

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Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:57 pm
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Oh, you wanted this in here, huh.
Trip wrote:
Wow, Something to Remind Me totally conned me. I mean, red flags pop up for sure (to spoil: the contrived way she drops her stuff at the pool, the missing book, the open eyes photo, and various details), but I was genuinely surprised in the best way as it all unfolded, retroactively revealing true motivations. Coincidences become her craftiness, and I was as fooled by her as he was (and to a lesser extent, the later he). It definitely becomes pretty crime novel trashy, like Fincher's Dragon Tattoo. But like that film, it's all in the way it's played.

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Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:01 pm
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Danke. <3

While you're here,

JediMoonShyne wrote:
Speaking of Ghosts, one thing I've not touched on much so far is the importance of gay themes to the Berlin School.

I've got a bunch of recent German films queued up with this in mind. Seen any of them?

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Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:11 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
How do you feel Above Us Only Sky fits in with the rest of the Berlin School films, if it at all? There were certain shots in it that really reminded me of stuff we've seen here already, particularly the one where she's standing alone in the middle of the street with the linear perspective, and where they're framed by the window that's full of foliage - both of which can be seen in the trailer. Also, there's Marseille as a site of escapism...
Visually, it definitely seems to fit. It’s interesting you mentioned that window shot from the trailer though, because I remember thinking it stood out from the rest of the film and that’s why I didn’t cap it. But there is something about this film that makes it different from the others I’ve seen (though, even after all this time, I’m still pretty shaky on what defines the Berlin School), and that’s this very slight, very subtle hint of fantasy. It doesn’t feel completely grounded in reality when she picks up the guy at the bus stop and they both start role-playing. And, then, there’s the moment near the end, where the fantasy is made explicit (in the child). I loved all of that, and I don't remember seeing anything like that in the other films. (Well, leaving out Yella, maybe, which is on a whole different plane from this subtle, lighthearted thing I’m talking about.)

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Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:04 am
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Oh, and I haven't forgotten that I promised to watch The State I Am In. This week!

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Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:11 am
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While difficult to associate it with the films of the Berlin School, Angelina Maccarone's Unveiled certainly exhibits some of the themes we've seen thus far; namely, those of gender roles and sexual identity, as well as nationalism, or perhaps even ethnocentrism. There is also the touching and crossing of borders seen previously in Christoph Hochhäusler's This Very Moment, and all that this evokes. "A cross between Boys Don't Cry and Maria Full of Grace" is the quote that has been attached to Unveiled in order to endear it to western audiences, but this doesn't tell us much, other than perhaps divulge the narrow reference points of American critics. More can be gleaned by simply considering the film's title: Unveiled, which alludes to some kind of dramatic exposure, but also suggests religious connotations. The original title, Fremde Haut, is perhaps even more telling, in that it can mean "foreign skin", "unknown skin", but also "alien skin", referring not only the identity but also the gender that protagonist Fariba (Jasmin Tabatabai) must assume and maintain in order to survive. Indeed, while the ideas of sexual, national and religious identity are central themes here, director Maccarone seems more concerned with identity in general. "We wanted to tell a story about someone who loses basically everything that makes a person a person", she states. Fariba is clearly an educated and cultured individual, yet is forced not only to give up her gender but also her country and beliefs; her family and friends; the language she speaks. Thus, she becomes a masquerading shell of her former self, yet is still able to connect with one particular woman, Anne (Anneke Kim Sarnau), who sees through this to the human being underneath. Sympathetic in nature, Anne comes to represent the sexually and ethnically liberated section of modern day German society; a section that, Maccarone suggests, is overwhelmed on all sides by prejudice, suspicion and hatred.
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Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:40 am
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Pretty!

I'm so glad to see this thread back! :heart:

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Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:55 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Visually, it definitely seems to fit. It’s interesting you mentioned that window shot from the trailer though, because I remember thinking it stood out from the rest of the film and that’s why I didn’t cap it. But there is something about this film that makes it different from the others I’ve seen (though, even after all this time, I’m still pretty shaky on what defines the Berlin School), and that’s this very slight, very subtle hint of fantasy. It doesn’t feel completely grounded in reality when she picks up the guy at the bus stop and they both start role-playing. And, then, there’s the moment near the end, where the fantasy is made explicit (in the child). I loved all of that, and I don't remember seeing anything like that in the other films. (Well, leaving out Yella, maybe, which is on a whole different plane from this subtle, lighthearted thing I’m talking about.)

Yeah, it's definitely the most striking image in the film. Probably symbolic, too, though I'm not quite sure what it symbolises. The idea of framing something with foliage is one I've seen a few times already, in films like Pingpong and Ferien, though not quite in the same way. I'd like to hear more of this hint of fantasy, since it's been so long since I saw the film that I can't really recall much. I remember considering that she might have been making it all up at one point, if that's what you're referring to; like, the whole thing was a product of some psychological condition, or whatever. There is fantasy in some of the films we've seen so far, like Yella, as you say, and all the mythological stuff in Sleeping Sickness. It's never particularly subtle, though. Still, the more I think about it, the more I feel that Above Us Only Sky qualifies, simply on this idea of blindsiding a tranquil existence; the rupturing of the norm, if you will, which seems to be present in most Berlin School films.

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Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:41 pm
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Updated the opening post with our most recent musings!

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Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:30 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
I'd like to hear more of this hint of fantasy, since it's been so long since I saw the film that I can't really recall much. I remember considering that she might have been making it all up at one point, if that's what you're referring to; like, the whole thing was a product of some psychological condition, or whatever.
Unreality is probably a better word than fantasy. I can't remember exactly how, but I got that sense from the music, from the strange unreality of their first meeting, and from the ways the relationship mirrored the old. Her old lover's entire life was fantasy, and she spends her time with the new lover (who has a real life) playing games, stepping outside of reality, reaching for truths not found in a résumé.

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Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:09 am
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Watched Andreas Dresen's Summer in Berlin, which turned out to be pretty bad.

Thomas Arslan's Dealer, on the other hand, is an incredible film. More coming...

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Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:32 am
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As the intermediate work in his oft-titled "Berlin Trilogy" (preceded by Brothers and Sisters; succeeded by A Fine Day), Thomas Arslan's Dealer can be seen to echo many of the themes found in its sibling films, perhaps most notably the centering upon characters of Turkish descent - though, it should be noted, there is very little dwelling upon this ancestry and its culture. Deniz, the young female protagonist in A Fine Day, has been described by Arslan as "a person with her own secrets, contradictions and distinctive features that cannot be reduced to her ethnic origin." Much the same can be said of Can (Tamer Yiğit), the titular pusher here, who is also a very headstrong individual, though contradictory in nature. Indeed, while Dealer is a film about drug peddling, it goes against convention by confining all the conflict and action (with a miraculously filmed drive-by sequence as the one exception) to the protagonist's mind; it is "not the surface interactions we see but the interior we do not see" that is central to the drama, as states Randall Halle. This is somewhat aided by the occasional, curt line of inner monologue that gives the illusion of insight into Can's mind. It is a mind that is forever on the move, though unlike Deniz and many other young protagonists of the Berlin School he is rarely seen to be on the move himself. Can and his friends typically stand around on street corners or in parks, "seemingly able only to occupy rather than move within urban spaces", as Robert suggests. More dynamic is Arslan's camera, which is principally static though does occasionally cut or rotate between several angles moving in a circular fashion around the protagonist, echoing the cyclical nature of a narrative which professes repetition with very little progress. Arslan hammers this point home at the end of Dealer by having Can end his narration thus: "It's strange how everything changes". When in fact - as is suggested through a wonderfully fleeting, piano-scored revisiting of the now empty spaces that Can once occupied - nothing has changed at all.
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Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:58 am
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I'm not very up to date on current German cinema but I recently saw a film from Werner Schroeter made during the new wave called Der Bomberpilot (1970). Worth seeing for a scathing satire on Nazi Germany and the burgeoning feminist movement in the late 60s. I might have seen another one of his films a while back.


Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:59 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
wonderfully fleeting, piano-scored revisiting of the now empty spaces that Can once occupied

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:heart:

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Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:15 pm
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Dark Ending wrote:
I'm not very up to date on current German cinema but I recently saw a film from Werner Schroeter made during the new wave called Der Bomberpilot (1970). Worth seeing for a scathing satire on Nazi Germany and the burgeoning feminist movement in the late 60s. I might have seen another one of his films a while back.

Looks good! Unfortunately, I'm not terribly well-versed in the German films from that era, aside from perhaps Fassbinder; probably an oversight, since I'm sure a better knowledge of the period would give more insight into the inspirations behind the current Berlin School. Speaking of which, I came across this description of the opening scene when reading up on Dealer, and love how the writer compares Arslan's static takes to those of Akerman:

The camera pulls back as the two figures move into the hallway and in sharp silhoette we witness can at work. Along with the action, Can's voice offers terse extra-diegetic commentary: "My workday began around noon. I had a rule, never to take the drugs I dealt." A series of shots follow, showing a further drug deal. The camera captures Can in the foreground with other dealers in the background. He, like the others, stands still in a James Dean-style pose looking right, and then the camera pans left to bring into frame a deal taking place. Action begins in the deal just at the point wheer the pan stops, making it appear ritualized or theatricalized. The sense of staging continues as the camera follows the action, money is taken and passed, and a third dealer walks to a spot where the drugs are hidden and returns. Can stands on lookout. The exchange complete, the dealer team stands shoulder to shoulder in a medium shot. The entire sequence as the feel of the aestheticized cruising sequences of Fassbinder's Querelle (1982), or the lonely, distant, static takes of the younger Akerman. - From German Film after Germany: Toward a Transnational Aesthetic, by Randall Halle.

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Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:31 am
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You've convinced me. I'll watch Dealer tonight. :heart:

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Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:38 am
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I hope you enjoy it!



I also thought I might attempt to encourage some off-the-cuff discussion by posting this fantastic little short by Ulrich Köhler, titled Rocket. It's only 10 minutes long, so not much of a commitment, but is filmed in one long take so worth watching for the spectacle alone. I love the choreography; the initially muffled music; how the camera enters the scene so hesitantly yet deliberately, almost as though the closer we get to these characters the more we might glean from their lives - especially in the tired, honest atmosphere that the end of a house party tends to evoke. It works as a nice predecessor to Köhler's debut film, Bungalow, if only for the setting, but also seems to stir up the kind of influences that we've come to associate with the Berlin School in general, particularly the work of Rohmer.

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Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:35 am
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Dealer is a good film. Thanks for that since I never really noticed the connections to Akerman.


Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:08 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
I love the choreography; the initially muffled music; how the camera enters the scene so hesitantly yet deliberately, almost as though the closer we get to these characters the more we might glean from their lives - especially in the tired, honest atmosphere that the end of a house party tends to evoke.
Very nice. I loved this short, Jedi. That view of the party room from outside... which we never actually make it into... then we're back outside. Lovely. I really like Köhler. :)

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Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:22 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Very nice. I loved this short, Jedi. That view of the party room from outside... which we never actually make it into... then we're back outside. Lovely. I really like Köhler. :)

Yes! The structure of the house, too, offering several different planes upon which things can unfold independently: the living room, viewed through the window with its party lights reflected on the ceiling; the dining area, which we never see much more than a sliver of; and the hallway, which consists of two separate levels. Then how these two levels are used to reflect the first guy's feelings towards the two women: he shrugs off the first one when standing upstairs, sits awkwardly between them on the stairs and then finally embraces the second woman in the downstairs doorway, out of sight of the other.

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Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:58 pm
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Dark Ending wrote:
Dealer is a good film. Thanks for that since I never really noticed the connections to Akerman.

Glad to hear someone else has seen it!

But yes, there are certain similarities between the work of Arslan and that of Akerman; in fact, I think he's named her as an inspiration in the past. It seems primarily to be an aesthetic thing, with a preference for static takes or sideways pans, but now that I think about it there is something Akerman-ian in the introverted female protagonist of A Fine Day, for example. There's also Bresson in his work, particularly in the reduced aesthetic, terse dialogue and occasional face/hand close-ups. And I can see the theatricalizing of Fassbinder, as suggested previously. Note the slicked-back hair and street corner poses. Also, the Americanization of the title, which seems to promise more of the action and drama we associate with western productions about drug dealing and gangster culture.

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Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:09 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
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These Germans sure do enjoy their Rohmer!

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Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:45 am
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just wanted to say this is one of the best threads of all time

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Sun Sep 22, 2013 3:59 pm
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Izzy Black wrote:
just wanted to say this is one of the best threads of all time

:heart:

(Post the Top 2 already!)

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Sun Sep 22, 2013 6:03 pm
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I really enjoyed Dealer, which is why I love this thread, since this is a film (a subject, a director) I'd never have come to on my own. The inevitable story are the least important thing here, fading to the background behind the glowing, almost inappropriately gorgeous, colors and fascinating faces (especially Can's impassive stare). The actors speak in a mannered style that reminds me of Eugène Green. (Can even speaks directly into the camera during a pivotal conversation.) I thought at first they were non-actors, but, as far as I can tell, they're all plenty experienced, so it's a careful choice, like all the others that contribute to the intense atmosphere. This, together with the flat, tableau-like staging of much of the action, seems very Brechtian (which probably accounts for the Fassbinder references above). Arslan knows exactly what he's doing as he offsets the seedy realism of graffiti and violence with stylization, and the results are dissonant, strangely beautiful, and perfectly suited to the characters' predictable fates. I need to see more by him!


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Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:25 am
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I finally watched The State I Am In. It only took me seven weeks. :(
hirtho wrote:
The last hour is especially great as all the elements which modestly accumulate in the first part of the film tighten and snap loose in harrowing ways, all the more painful to witness as they're accented with glimpses of sensitivity and connection which are ultimately lost.
I felt sort of the opposite, honestly. The situation was clearly laid out in the first half hour, and then nothing changed. The parents got more ruthless, and Jeanne got more rebellious, but, for the most part, the same thing happened again and again. Which is an effective way to show the trap they were in, I guess, but I wouldn't call it harrowing. This is the least gripping Petzold I've seen. Even Yella, with its disappointing twist, is almost painfully suspenseful until you figure it out.

Think I'd rank the Petzolds like this:

    Ghosts
    Barbara
    Jerichow
    Something to Remind Me
    Beats Being Dead
    Yella
    The State I Am In

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Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:21 pm
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Great stuff, Maiden! :heart:

Glad I'm not the only one who didn't see much in The State I Am In. This is also a good excuse for me to post a Petzold piece that popped up over the summer:

http://sensesofcinema.com/2013/great-di ... anpetzold/

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Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:44 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I really enjoyed Dealer, which is why I love this thread, since this is a film (a subject, a director) I'd never have come to on my own. The inevitable story is the least important thing here, fading to the background behind the glowing, almost inappropriate colors and Can's fascinating, impassive face. The actors speak in a mannered style that reminds me of Eugène Green more than anything else. (Can even speaks directly into the camera during a pivotal conversation.) I thought at first they were non-actors, but, as far as I can tell, they're all plenty experienced. That, together with the flat, tableau-like staging of much of the action seems pretty Brechtian (which probably accounts for the Fassbinder references above). Arslan knows exactly what he's doing as he balances the seedy realism of graffiti and violence with stylization, and the results are dissonant and strangely beautiful. I need to see more by him!

Yes, to be honest I'd avoided the film up to this point because of its subject and title. Speaking of which, apparently the verb dealen is a recent introduction to the German dictionary, which explains the English title. You're right about the colours, too; note how the characters are all very colourful, often wearing gaudy tracksuits and such, whereas the locations (besides perhaps Can's apartment) are all rather saturated in comparison. What did you make of the closing sequence, and that "strange how everything changes" line? How did you interpret it? I jumped straight to the conclusion that he's simply contradictory or hypocritical, as it appears many did; that while Can might profess change to everyone he's really only kidding himself, and that he has just as little freedom at the end of the film in his current predicament as he does at the beginning. Yet, I came across this piece recently by Marco Abel that seems to suggest otherwise:

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Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:25 pm
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Also, I hoped you noticed Schanelec's little cameo! :D

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Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:33 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
What did you make of the closing sequence, and that "strange how everything changes" line? How did you interpret it? I jumped straight to the conclusion that he's simply contradictory or hypocritical, as it appears many did; that while Can might profess change to everyone he's really only kidding himself, and that he has just as little freedom at the end of the film in his current predicament as he does at the beginning. Yet, I came across this piece recently by Marco Abel that seems to suggest otherwise:
Seems to suggest is right. I read that carefully, got myself another cup of coffee and everything, and I'm still not completely sure what he's saying, haha. I do like what he says about the the impossibility of knowing when those spaces are supposed to be. That series of shots made me think about the relative permanence of things (cities, buildings, trees) as opposed to people, whose decisions and mistakes can have immediate, sometimes permanent repercussions. So, yeah, I don't think Can's voiceover is hypocritical or, even, ironic. He's lost his family, his freedom and his adopted country. He says it's "strange" because he had felt the invulnerability of youth. He's very young, after all, and has difficulty imagining the consequences of his acts.

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Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:41 pm
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I totally noticed Schanelec! I guess I should also have mentioned that his use of color in this reminded me of Places in Cities.

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Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:45 pm
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