Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002)

Sunday 12 June 2022, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002), 97 minutes, in English with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, film starts at 20:30.

Scottish director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk about Kevin) proved to be the boldest of all female European filmmakers when she blasted into the scene with her compelling early short movies and her haunting debut feature Ratcatcher. Morvern Callar was her second feature film, and we find her covering radically different territory yet again, with a story about a woman in Scotland whose boyfriend has committed suicide on Christmas Day. She then breaks away and takes off on a trip with her female friend to Spain. Actually, there is a lot more to this story than what I am telling, involving many levels of deception, intrigue, questions about art and forgery, and hidden secrets, but it’s better to let the story unfold itself. And although there is a story, I would say it isn’t a movie for a story-driven audience, one that is looking for thrills and spills… but rather for an audience that can pick up on ambience, the sensuality of the human face, and quiet subdued moments rather than overblown ones.

This is an absorbing portrait of the main heroine portrayed by Samantha Morton, and if you allow yourself to be open, it will suck you into its vast world. The cinematography hits you over and over again with its atypical framing and focusing, which is immersive and revealing. These images are fused with a wide-ranging soundtrack including music by Aphex Twin, Broadcast, German Kraut-rockers Can, Stereolab, Ween, the Velvet Underground, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, etc. The film is based on the debut novel by Scottish author Alan Warner, who dedicated his book to musican Holger Czukay, so of course some of his music also emerges in several scenes. The free-form approach and unrushed speed of this flick, devoid of the normal identification gimmicks, means you won’t connect to our main character like you would in ‘normal’ movies…. she stays independent and mysterious. A poetic stream of both rough and lush textures, with an astounding performance by actress Samantha Morton that is absolutely mesmerizing.

This will be a high-definition screening.

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

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Dušan Makavejev, 1967)

Sunday 29 May 2022, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Dušan Makavejev, 1967), 68 minutes. In Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, film starts at 20:30.

Once again we will be screening another early film by the amazing Dušan Makavejev. In outline, this is the story of the romance between a young telephonist and a middle-aged rat exterminator that goes haywire. Yet in Dušan Makavejev’s hands, this film isn’t just a strange story, but becomes an innovative, free-form exploration on the themes of love and freedom… laying the groundwork for a razor-sharp look at relationships in sixties Belgrade. Breaking away from traditional ideas of narrative storytelling, the film often shifts away, for example, to interviews with a sexologist and a criminologist giving their crazed opinions… or suddenly we find ourselves listening to a poem about exterminating rats. This film is based on a true story, and includes some of the most elegant dramatic filmmaking of the director’s career.

A free-wheeling movie that mixes romance and satire, documentary footage, melodrama and tragedy. And as always with Makavejev, what we are left with is a bizarre cocktail of Yugoslavian-styled surrealism. This is a true cinema of the imagination. It’s one of the crucial films from the Eastern block in the 60s, and it’s a very rare screening, so I hope to see you there!

This will be a high-definition screening.

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

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 1969)

Sunday 8 May 2022, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 1969), 111 minutes. In English with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, film starts at 20:30.

This is Haskell Wexler’s legendary movie documenting the explosive course of events in America during the 60s. In 1968 Haskell Wexler was one of the world’s best cameramen, and he had lensed films like One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But the film industry was changing fast, and he became disillusioned with the commercialization of American cinema, so he decided to direct his own low-budget film about racism and the inherent violence in the US. His plan was to take a fictional story with actors, and mix it with documentary situations… and therefore blur the line between a feature film and documentary. He wanted to create a new kind of cinema, one that was more grounded in real everyday life.

His plan was to finish the film by taking his crew to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. This real-life event ended up turning into an apocalyptic “police riot”, with officers beating anyone they could get their hands on. Suddenly the director and the crew were engulfed in a fierce battle, with tear gas flying all around them… as they attempted to still film the actors amidst all the swinging police clubs.

Besides its innovative approach to filmmaking, the movie is also important as a sharp analysis of the mass media in general, and how it was being used to manipulate audience opinions. An incredible time capsule of the social unrest of the late 60s with a soundtrack by Mike Bloomfield (Dylan’s guitarist… Like a Rolling Stone), The Mothers of Invention (Zappa), and Love.

“A definitive document of the political tumult in late-1960s America.”

This will be a high-definition screening.

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

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Acción mutante (Álex de la Iglesia, 1993)

Sunday 2 April 2022, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Acción mutante (Álex de la Iglesia, 1993), 97 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, film starts at 20:30.

This was the debut feature movie of director Alex de la Iglesia, who would later become a staple in Spanish cinema. It was produced by queer arthouse provocateur Pedro Almodóvar who went out on a limb to give this first time filmmaker a chance, a completely unknown cartoon-drawing geek with a punky attitude who had almost no filmmaking experience. Although Pedro was supposed to only produce it, he couldn’t keep himself from interfering with the creative side of the project—exactly the behaviour he despised in other overbearing producers that tried to control his own films. Pedro did however bring in his colourful entourage of off-beat celebrities to help out with the acting—for example, transgender legend Bibi Andersen, or the unforgettable bizarre-faced model Rosy de Palma.

This is a sort of sci-fi horror film, but one with a lot of low-budget imagination. The film plunges us into a world in the future, a fully European paradise where everyone is beautiful and glamorous. But unrest is festering in this future Eden, when society is confronted with an uprising of terrorists battling for the rights of ugly people. This movie was a game-changer in many ways. Since there were no Spanish special effects crews back in the early 90s, some had to be brought in from France. Since director Alex de la Iglesia was busy as a comic book illustrator, he brought that entire zaniness into his futuristic vision. With its wild set decors, bizarre futuristic costumes, bold cinematography, and a dynamite concept, this flick splashed into the counterculture scene in Spain, breaking the doors open for a new kind of cinema. It was an intoxicating cinematic cocktail—equal parts comic book, sci-fi, black comedy, and a colourful version of steampunk. The punchy theme song is by Def Con Dos, one of the earliest hip hop duos in Spanish history.

This will be a high-definition screening.

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

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Die endlose Nacht (Will Tremper, 1963)

Sunday 20 March 2022, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Die endlose Nacht (Will Tremper, 1963), 83 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, film starts at 20:30.

There is thick fog over Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, and an announcement is made that all flights to West Germany are canceled. Since the airport is in East Germany, many people are not allowed outside and so they are left stranded, hoping in the morning things will clear up.

This film follows six of the people who are caught up in the building, walking aimlessly through the near empty airport. The film is made up of their encounters, and their attempts to make something interesting happen. In some ways, it has a bit of the mood of the pandemic and all the lockdowns… suddenly thrown into a void, a bit lost, with plenty of time to kill, and not knowing how long it will take.

The people who are drifting around are from both sides of the Iron Curtain, and therefore meeting each other for the first time, both suspicious of the other side. To further this East-West connection, the theme song is a tune by the Andrzej Trzaskowskí Quintet, a wicked Polish jazz band featuring the vocals of Wanda Warska.

This will be a high-definition screening.

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

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Gundermann (Andreas Dresen)

Sunday 6 February 2022, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Gundermann (Andreas Dresen), 118 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Doors open at 19:30, Film starts at 20:00.

This is a biopic about the DDR singer-songwriter Gerhard Gundermann (1955-1998). It is directed by Andreas Dresen, one of the very few East German filmmakers that was allowed to make movies after the fall of the Berlin wall. I love his films because he always sees things from a different angle than West German filmmakers. There is a kind of humanitarianism in Dresen’s films that is missing from West German because they try to be too sensational, too ‘cool’, too controversial or overly sentimental. For Dresen cinema is never a commercial trick or a gimmick.

Our main character Gerhard Gundermann had a job as a crane operator in an excavation site. It’s 1970s and during the day he digs for coal, but at night he was forming rock bands to play music. His songs were thoughtful, touching, rebellious, and hopeful. But after the Berlin wall fell, it turned out he had a contradictory past, and had a secret life working undercover. So what emerges in this flick is a complex portrait of a highly unusual character. Although we like to see the world in black-and-white terms, things are not always so easy… usually reality is in shades.

This film shifts back and forth in time – into the seventies, to the fall of the Berlin wall in the late 80s, and the reunification of the 90s… showing how Gundermann dealt with his double life in his later years.

This will be a high-definition screening.

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

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Romuald et Juliette (Coline Serreau, 1988)

Sunday 14 november 2021, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Romuald et Juliette (Coline Serreau, 1988), 107 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, Film starts at 20:30.

Coline Serreau (La belle verte) is an oddball and marginalized filmmaker, even within French cinema. Despite having quite a series of films, she has never gotten the recognition she deserves. Brilliantly determined, she refuses to tackle hard social problems with bitterness, but instead creates a brazen breeze of surreal humor that instantly reveals how absurd our modern world is. She embraced all the topics that were too hot to handle back in the 1980s… racism, gender inequality, monogamy, queerness.

In this flick we have Daniel Auteuil as a corporate businessman who gets wrapped up in a scandal when he attempts to cut costs in his factories. But then there is a twist… a woman who he always took for granted – the black woman who cleans his office every night – is suddenly able to help him. I won’t say more about the plot, since these broad narrative strokes aren’t what this movie is about anyway. It is about the details, the incredible humor, the beautiful twists and turns, and the sense of humanity that shines in this flick. Director Coline Serreau has a skill for a kind of magic that far surpasses any Hollywood product despite all the money they spend.

This is a sharp, simple, tender film that “does the right thing”. Cinema can be a negative cultural force that encourages fear, hatred, or in the modern sense, passive consumerism. But it once (in the 60s, 70s and 80s) was often used as a positive cultural force, that simply re-evaluated our society and shifted it towards something more humane. If there is any meaning to the word progress, it only makes sense if we end up living a more profound existence. And that is what this flick is about… how we get caught up in a crazy prefabricated world, and end up losing our sense of meaning.

A movie shining with social critique, humor and brilliance.

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

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Tout va bien (Jean-Luc Godard, 1972)

Sunday 24 october 2021, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Tout va bien (Everything’s All Right), directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1972, 96 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, Film starts at 20:30.

Directly after the ground-breaking historical events that occurred in May ’68 in France, director Jean-Luc Godard went into a crisis. He was famous internationally, but the revolution shook him so deeply that he realized that such fame was a fraud and actually undemocratic! So Godard went into collective filmmaking, and this film was the major result of this period. These collaborations are known as the Dziga-Vertov films.
Because he had two major stars signed for the project – Jane Fonda and Yves Montand – he was able to make a big-budget experimental film that follows the journey of a filmmaker and a reporter caught up in a worker’s take-over of a sausage factory. So there is an intimate love story, but this film also steps back and looks at the bigger picture. By approaching the situation in this way, Godard, together with Jean-Pierre Gorin, are able to analyze the movie industry, society in general, how news is reported by the mass media, along with structurally undemocratic hierarchies inherent in factories and most places of work.
Certainly a bewildering movie, there is nothing else quite like it. Mid-way through the film you see the look on actor Yves Montand’s face, something like “What the fuck is going on? How did I get mixed up in this!” It is a crazy film, with a lot of humor, but also despair. There is a thoughtful and melancholy mood that hangs over this innovative flick, as Godard stubbornly continues the battle when most others have already given up, ditched the ship, and gone for the cash in post-May ’68 France. This is the kind of film you need to watch if you want to explore, understand the world around you… and also to grasp the untapped possibilities of cinema.

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