Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Stardust (Michael Apted, 1974)

Sunday September 8th 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Stardust (Michael Apted, 1974), 111 minutes. In English (no subtitles). Doors open at 20:00, Film starts at 20:30

British heartthrob David Essex (Rock On) stars in this epic tale about Jim Maclaine, a working-class lad who starts a band called The Stray Cats. This flick covers his rise to stardom and his hard fall into disillusionment… he is a sort of Ziggy Stardust character who climbs to the top and tumbles over the other side. The director Michael Apted would later knock out a Bond film (The World is not Enough), but back in the 70s scepticism of such spectacular movies was still extremely strong, so this is a radically different kind of flick. The cast alone merits it as being a crucial movie about the rock industry – we have Adam Faith (a huge rock star in England during the 60s) Welsh pub rocker Dave Edmunds and the eccentric drummer of The Who – Keith Moon. What this film does best is show how cold-blooded the music industry really is… how it’s just a machine to generate cash. It sells cheap sentiments and infectious rhythms… but it is all a design, a scheme, a facade. Lurking in the narrative are influences of other rock stars who went to ruin… like Marc Bolan, the Beatles, Syd Barrett, Scott Walker. Years afterwards this scenario would be reflected in the lives of Ian Curtis, Nick Drake, Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, etc.

Stardust was pretty huge when it came out, but since the 1970s it has bitten the dust and been forgotten. There is a reason for that dissapearance – in between the growing consciousness of the 1960s and 70s, and the present cynicism of today there were several decades that dismissed the critical argument of this film, flung aside everything that had been gained in the 60s, and went full-throttle into the American moneymaking dream. In my view, the entire western world lost three decades going down that wrong path. And of course, part of the American dream is the rock’n’roll dream, which is fortunately finally wearing pretty thin these days. The depiction of the music business as an industry run by heartless technicians, greedy managers and nasty record companies rings pretty true these days as revelations about Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein (and ‘Top of the Pops’ Jimmy Savile in the UK) come to the surface. These sleazy types are not the exceptions, they are the rule in high finance and entertainment. This flick stands alongside a few other movies made around the same time – Peter Watkin’s Privilege (1967) and Richard Loncraine’s Slade in Flame (1975) also show the dark side of the pleasure dome. The message of this movie isn’t cynically saying life is worthless, but rather it is a warning: we should choose for life over money. Also starring Larry Hagman.

Thematically at least, this is the most important screening anywhere in Holland this month…
“How much does God mean to you?”
“Somewhere between two and three million dollars, after tax.”
Another forgotten classic…

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: Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave (Alexander Kluge, 1973)

Sunday August 4th 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave (Gelegenheitsarbeit einer Sklavin). Directed by Alexander Kluge, 87 minutes, in German with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.30, Film starts at 21:00.

In a way this film has a story, but like all great movies it also has a wider meaning, it helps us reflect on the world around us. The story focuses on a woman called Roswitha who has a hell of a life. She has a jerk for a husband, a family and also on the side she runs an illegal abortion clinic. When the clinic is raided, her husband is arrested and she is left to fend for herself. But this process also gives her something… an understanding of how our society operates and how women are targeted. But also something else… she realizes that if she really wants to make a better life for her children, she can’t just focus on her family, but has to act outside it. Therefore it is a movie about the necessity of getting involved in the world around us, about breaking one’s numb passivity.

This glimpse into 1970s Germany shows us how little progress we have made since then, but also gives a bridge to possible alternatives.

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: Bone (Larry Cohen, 1972)

Sunday July 21st 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Bone (Larry Cohen, 1972). 95 minutes. In English. Doors open at 20.30, Film starts at 21:00.

This film is one of my biggest recent cinematic surprises… really knocked me off my chair with amazement! Maverick director Larry Cohen (It’s Alive) would later make surreal horror films, but his debut was something totally different….and probably the finest film in his career. Bone is a film like no other, a quirky black comedy which takes on the subject of racism in a bizarre and unexpected way.

The plot focuses on a Beverley Hills couple- a used car salesman, and his wife Bernadette. The couple seem to have it all – but one small unpredictable incident happens which throws their lives into chaos, and exposes the poverty behind the facade of their lifestyle. What is that incident? One day a black man named Bone appears in their back yard. This starts a chain reaction of events which is nothing short of amazing. This razor-sharp film stands out from a lot of other 1970s stuff simply because its such a bizarre mix, and also because of the unpredictable way in which the plot plays out. Also, its cutting-edge sense of humor comes close to Tarantino, except this film also has deeper insights and something more relevant to say.

Bone is clearly an attack on racism, but above everything else its a film about how people lie to themselves in order to keep up a certain lifestyle. The film is radically un-PC, but at the same time it’s one of the most politically correct films I have ever seen. Of course the major studios wouldn’t even touch such a wild-card film, so it was thrown into the drive-in circuit and quickly deleted from film history. BONE is an obscure underground masterpiece, starring a brilliant Yaphet Kotto (Alien, Blue Collar)… and although Koto is usually great in everything he does, in this small independent film he gives the best performance of his life. Seen now, 40 years after it was made, this movie is not only relevant – its a startling revelation.

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: The films of Pierre Merejkowsky

Sunday June 23rd 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: An evening with Pierre Merejkowsky and Nina Zivancevic. Doors open at 20.00, Film starts 20.30.

Pierre Merejkowsky is a fimmaker with an anarchistic bent who resides in Paris. He cares nothing for finesse or the elegance of style. Once, in one of his reviews, the French film critic Serge Daney famously blasted a movie about a German concentration camp, because at one point there was an artful camera movement. How can one consider artfulness in dealing with the holocaust? Merejkowsky is a bit the same: what is the point of endlessly harping on aesthetics and style, when we are facing an era when the entire world is falling apart at the seams?

Merejkowsky investigates images with his cinema, yes, but much more than that. He interrogates our passivity. He throws himself, camera in hand, into volatile situations. He pleads, he battles with ghosts, he confronts everyone in the immediate environment. He insists; where does this sluggish lethargy that is so prevalent today come from? He is only interested in cinema as a catalyst for transformation. His films are provocative, and are meant to archaeologically dig beneath the surface of culture and everyday life.

Together with poet Nina Zivancevic, we will introduce and explore Pierre’s chaotic, vibrant, passionate cinema. In between films, discussion with the public will also be encouraged.

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: 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