Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Die Beunruhigung / Apprehension (Lothar Warneke, 1982)

Sunday May 19th 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Die Beunruhigung / Apprehension (Lothar Warneke, 1982). 100 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, Jeffrey’s intro and film start at 20.30

These days we have such a prejudiced view of the former East Bloc, as if it was totally a one-sided thing that never changed, and in our arrogance, we demonize it without the slightest idea what we are talking about. Believe it or not, in the former East Germany there was an effort to make a cinema that was free of propaganda – both the so-called ‘Soviet realism’ of Russia, but also the fake romantic propaganda of Hollywood. And in two areas the East German cinema thematically excelled – they were ‘anti-war’ and ‘pro-women.’ So in the GDR there was an entire genre exploring the real-life situation of women. By contrast, in the so-called “democratic” west women were mostly relegated to side roles in movies – often as secretaries or housewives or love interests. Today we have female super-hero films, but they are as ridiculous as the former roles, and are about as empowering as a shot of arsenic. Because of the recent ‘me too’ movement, there have been a few more films highlighting the female situation… but they don’t hold a candle to what was happening in East Germany 40 years ago.

What is this film about? It doesn’t have a huge overarching story, but rather focuses more on a specific situation. Our main character Inge is a mid-thirties social worker and a single mother, magnificently portrayed by actress Christine Schorn. She is told she has breast cancer, possibly malignant. The entire film is about her thoughts and emotions, her conversations and behavior. It is based on an autobiographical novel by the popular GDR writer Helga Schubert. The style is stripped-down, allowing real discussions to occur about real things. In a way, this film is like a cinematic detox session that cuts the audience off from all spectacle, cheap tricks and quick thrills. Personally, I found it exhilarating. It’s a biting flick, made even more heart-wrenching by its unsentimentality, and Its documentary-like edge also makes it valuable as a poignant document of East Berlin in 1981.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Blame it on Fidel! (Julie Gavras, 2006)

Sunday April 12th 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Blame it on Fidel! (La faute à Fidel!) directed by Julie Gavras, 2006. 99 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, Jeffrey’s intro and film start at 20.30

This film focuses on a little nine-year-old girl named Anne who has grown up in Paris in the 1960s. Her father is a lawyer and the family is doing fine. But in 1970 everything starts changing. Her uncle has gone to Spain to fight some politician called Franco (the dictator). Anne’s father also starts bringing in activists from Chile into their home, where strategies are debated. As the apartment fills up with people from all over the world, the atmosphere becomes tense and serious, and little Anne finds herself being taken care of by a host of people rather than just her mother and father. She is told that Mickey Mouse is a fascist, and her father decides to share all of his money with everyone, not just spend it on the family. Anne has lost her comfortable Parisian bourgeois life, and her radical parents try to explain the reasons to her, but she understands nothing of it…. which is understandable!

That is the premise of this film, and it is both funny and insightful to see how all this unfolds. As those who frequent my cinemas realize, France is the only country that allows women to make movies on a large scale. Here we have female director Julie Gavras, the daughter of Oscar winning Greek director Costa-Gavras, who made such legendary films as Z and Missing. Since he was a politically-charged filmmaker, one has to feel that director Julie Gavras is drawing on her own experiences as a child. So many films today are just bad copies of other movies. Not this one… this is a poignant, witty, and unique gem.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Black and White in Colour (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1976)

Sunday March 31st 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Black and White in Colour / La Victoire en chantant, Noirs et Blancs en couleur, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1976, 92 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, Jeffrey’s intro and film start at 20.30

When I was attending university during the protest-fueled 1970s, this was one of the most popular films screened on campuses. It captured the spirit of the time, when people understood colonialism and the anti-war demonstrations were blazing. This film is set during 1915 and is a biting look at both colonialism and war, but one with a wicked sense of humor. Just the title of the film already shows a playful satirical wit. This was the first film by Jean-Jacques Annaud, who later went on to make The Lover and Name of the Rose.

This flick centers on two European outposts in central Africa, one French and one German. The French soldiers are pretty lazy and mostly concerned about food and sex, and are just waiting for retirement… while the Germans are more interested in regulations and disciplining their black servants (slaves) to march correctly. Communication is slow at such an outpost (no internet back then), it only comes in newspapers sent from Europe that arrive six months late. From such a newspaper the French discover something that the Germans don’t know yet – their two countries have been at war since August of 1914! The French decide they have to do something about this, take action first and defend their country. What unfolds is a devastating satire about imperialism and the tragic results of World War One.

Filmed on location on the Ivory Coast, it is based on Annaud’s own experiences while working in Cameroun as part of his French national service. While he was there he read a history book of the country, and about the great battle of Mora when Europeans caused African tribes to war with their own neighbors. In the last 30 years this film has almost completely vanished, which is pretty shameless… especially since this movie won the academy award for best foreign film in 1976.

And just to be clear: up to today only one film from sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) has ever won an Academy Award for best foreign-language movie, and it was this one, a French production flying under the flag of the Ivory Coast. This pretty much shows how racism is alive as ever, and is still kicking. So I think it is about time we dust this flick off and throw it on the big screen again after decades of absence. It remains totally relevant today, since it seems our mentality about imperialism, racism and war haven’t improved even a bit.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Au Hasard, Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)

Sunday 9 december 2018, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema. Doors open at 20:00, Film starts 20:30.
AU HASARD BALTHAZAR, directed by Robert Bresson, 1966. 99 minutes. In French with English subtitles.

Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished, because this film is really the world in an hour and a half.” – Jean-Luc Godard

And indeed Jean-Luc Godard was so in love with this film that he later married its main actress Anne Wiazemsky! A transcendental masterpiece from one of the most distinct filmmakers in the history of French cinema, Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar follows the long and winding tale of a much-abused donkey, Balthazar, whose life strangely parallels that of his owner, Marie (Anne Wiazemsky). A beast of burden suffering from the sins of man, we watch as the donkey is passed from the hands of one cruel owner to another. Because the movie is so stripped down, it becomes universal and almost archetypal with the donkey symbolizing so much of the suffering in this world.

You won’t find any cheap tricks that you normally come across in a Hollywood flick here. Bresson is able to design a sense of compassion that is free of sentimentality. He achieves this balance through, of all things, Russian cinema experiments of the 1920s by Lev Kuleshov. The end effect works differently on different people, but for many it is nothing short of cathartic. There is such a strange mixture of feelings and thoughts that one goes through while watching a film like this. I guess for me the film is about maintaining innocence in a ruthless and uncaring world. The entire film is set to a precisely edited soundtrack composed of nature sounds, narrative sound-cues, French rock and a Schubert piano sonata. Many female artists were somehow touched by this film, including Chantal Akerman and Patti Smith. It also features the writer/artist Pierre Klossowski in a rare acting role.

This will be a high-definition screening.
Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: The Working Class Goes to Heaven (Elio Petri, 1971)

Sunday 4 november 2018, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema. Doors open at 20:00, Film starts 20:30.

THE WORKING CLASS GOES TO HEAVEN 1971
(La classe operaia va in paradiso)
Directed by Elio Petri
111 minutes
In Italian with English subtitles

This long-forgotten flick by cult Italian director Elio Petri (Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion, The 10th Victim) received top honors at Cannes in 1972. It’s a gut-level, sex-and-politics view of industrial capitalism focusing on a factory worker (Gian Maria Volonté) caught up in the wheels of assembly-line production and mass consumption. It’s the sexual fantasies that he has which fuels Lulu’s productivity for the company, but his perspective on work and life undergo a radical transformation when he looses his finger in a factory accident and is temporarily laid off. Along with his finger he also loses himself – everything he had believed in and dedicated his life to. That’s the set-up of this film, and I won’t go into how everything unfolds afterwards. The alternative title is Lulu the Tool (there was a time when workers actually used tools; then there came a time when workers became tools).

Here we clearly see the impact of the May ’68 upheavals… and although all of this may sound dry and grim, in the hands of a superb director like Petri, an absurdist sense of black humour bursts to the surface from time to time. Petri chooses his aesthetics, both visually and musically, to reflect the working conditions found in factories, which ends up being both surreal and aggressive. The cinema vérité camerawork is by Luigi Kuvellier, production design is by the future Academy Awards winner Dante Ferretti, and it is graced with a darkly dissonant music score by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Besides starring Gian Maria Volonté, this hard-hitting gem also features Mariangela Melato.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: L’été (Marcel Hanoun, 1968) + Radio Voorwaarts (Mateo Vega, 2018)

Sunday 28 October 2018, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema. Doors open at 20:00, programme starts at 20:30. Radio Voorwaarts (local short) and L’été (Summer)

RADIO VOORWAARTS – 2018 (Radio Forwards) Directed by Mateo Vega. 20 minutes. In Dutch with English subtitles
Threatened with eviction, the inhabitants of an alternative community – artists, squatters, idealists and ravers – give one last party to simultaneously mourn and celebrate the end of their beloved space. Director Mateo Vega will be present at this screening to answer questions. Trailer: https://vimeo.com/274252520

MAI ’68 L’ETE – 1968. Directed by Marcel Hanoun, 63 minutes. In French with English subtitles
Directly after the spring of may ’68, when all the dreams of a new generation came to the surface but were beaten down, Tunisian-born director Marcel Hanoun and actress Graziella Buci left Paris and went to the countryside to lick their wounds and reflect on what had been lost. In a stone house in Normandy a woman lives in seclusion, looking at photographs of the Mai’68 uprising. She walks in the countryside, attempting to reconcile what has happened. She listens to the radio, and hears a broadcast about the invasion of Soviet tanks into Czechoslovakia. That feels like the final nail in the coffin. She quotes a poet “there is no longer any fire in the sky.”

This movie is certainly political, but in a way that you have probably never experienced before…. because here the discourse is poetic, rather than ranting. The film is a mood piece, and a time capsule, with a deep melancholic tone.

“Ceux qui font des révolutions à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau.”

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Joe (John G. Avildsen, 1970)

Sunday 30 September 2018, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Joe (1970). Directed by John G. Avildsen. 102 minutes. In English with English subtitles. Doors open at 8pm, film starts at 8:30pm.

I screened this wild flick three years ago, as I saw a certain tendency building in the United States. Since then things have exploded… so let’s just take another look at this motherfucker in relation to current events.

This is vintage 1970’s filmmaking – swerving into unexpected areas and taking on topics that today’s formula-ridden cinema wouldn’t even imagine. Set in the swinging 60s and filled to the hilt with exploitation-like situations, this unusual film centers on corporate executive Bill Compton (Dennis Patrick) whose young daughter Melissa has overdosed on drugs. One night in a bar Bill meets a guy named Joe, an all American, anti-hippie, anti-commie, gun lovin, working class hard-head. The bizarre friendship that develops plummets the movie into the depths of the American nightmare… in a way that is totally fitting today’s political climate.

Directed by John G. Avildsen (Rocky) and starring Peter Boyle and Susan Sarandon in her film debut. Interestingly, this was the first film that Lloyd Kaufman (Troma films) ever worked on… he was the assistant director. The music is soulful and performed by Bobby Scott (who wrote He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother). Without going into the subject of the movie too much, I should say that it is something even more relevant today than when it was made… one could even say it was prophetic. A great counter-balance to the commercial nonsense that we are offered in the cinemas today, much of which – directly or indirectly – sensationalize and glamorize violence.

This will be a high-definition screening.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Latest from the DaDa-ER

Sunday August 5th 2018, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Latest from the DaDa-ER (Letztes aus der DaDaeR). Directed by Jörg Foth, 1990, 86 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Door opens at 20:30, film and presentation from 21:00.

After the Berlin wall fell the East-German film scene went haywire, since there was suddenly a small window of time that meant it was no longer under the authority of the previous GDR government, and as of yet were not forced to become commercial by the capitalist system. In this small period they knocked out some truly wild and exceptional off-beat cries of rebellion. This film is a marvelous example. It couldn’t have been made a year earlier when the GDR was still strong, and it wouldn’t have been made a year later when the DEFA studio was bought by a French conglomerate.

What we have here is a avant-garde picaresque story of two East-German clowns rummaging through the ruins of the GDR, and although the clowns seem relieved that everything is loosening up, at the same time everything is falling apart and they also show no interest in the glamor and spectacle of the ‘other’ half of Germany. This film was made at a very acute point in time. The main forces behind this freewheeling creation were two visionary performance artists – Steffen Mensching and Hans-Eckardt Wenzel. The are both the writers and the main actors in this surreal flick about two clowns trying to survive the last days of East Germany. Their journey is almost like Dante’s inferno, as they are let out of prison, and they venture through garbage dumps and down rivers into unbelievable situations. Each stage of their quest is set up like a cabaret piece, complete with songs they sing that describe their plight. They find themselves in an almost no-man’s land, and their observations are critical of both East and West Germany.

The title of the movie is a play of words merging of the word ‘Dada’ and the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik). This highly unique flick also surprisingly features Rainer Werner Fassbinder regular Irm Hermann in a cameo role. Another outrageously rare screening of totally forgotten cinema.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net