Wednesday, 5/24/2017

New German Cinema: It's Complicated

Searchers, Slackers, Strugglers and Stressors

New German Cinema: It's Complicated


DO YOU SOMETIMES FEEL BURNED OUT AND EMPTY? The films of the New German Cinema sidebar ask us probing questions about our self-image, self-improvement and others' perception of us, which informs not just Lola Randl's film of that name starring Charly Hübner and Benno Fürmann, but all the searchers, slackers, strugglers and stressors of contemporary Teutonic output.

Be it the search for the perfect partner or the battle with the modern patchwork family, German film deals with various declinations of single or double relationships: Love makes blind – even those already BLIND & UGLY, such as neurotic Ferdi (Tom Lass), who only dares to hit on Jona (Naomi Achternbusch) because she's vision-impaired. The romance between Louk (Lara Feith) and Manja (Paula Hüttisch) is atmospheric and pure as AIR: No fear. No lies. No traces. Laura Lackmann follows a part-time couple (Laura Tonke and Marc Hosemann): WHATEVER HAPPENS strikes to the core of modern patchwork families as Julian (Fahri Yardim) and Hannah (Silvia Hoeks) make a mess out of their breakup.

Paula Hüttisch and Lara Feith in AIR

Modern family constellations are no less complicated on German screens: Black comedy BAD BUGS features an aging ladies' man, who wants to show the romantic ropes to his son, who's not really that much like him, it turns out, while LUCKY LOSER depicts a weekend dad who's lost his wife but gained much more. STRANGE DAUGHTER imagines a teen pregnancy with a Muslim dad.

The number of comedies is remarkable this year, as is the resurgence of genre elements in arthouse dramas and tragedies: In THE GARDEN, a family sweats through the heat wave of 1976 after losing their mother, encountering greater problems than the heat. In FOUR HANDS, two sisters (Frida-Lovisa Hamann and Friederike Becht) are bonded by trauma for life. LUNA toys with thriller elements when a family is murdered and Russian agents appear, while hitchhiker Alma (Luise Heyer) takes a very wrong turn in DETOUR.

Anna Linnae Bullard-Werner and Elisa Schlott in STRANGE DAUGHTER

Hipster capital Berlin figures large in New German Cinema: THE LONG SUMMER OF THEORY celebrates the unique Berlin flair of today, while MAGICAL MYSTERY is an entertaining look back at life in '90s techno Berlin, with an A-list cast (Charly Hübner, Annika Meier, Detlev Buck, Marc Hosemann) based on the novel by "Element of Crime" singer Sven Regener. MAKING JUDITH! by indie eminence terrible Klaus Lemke, partly shot at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2016, is a parable on online casting 2.0 and creating virtual stars and starlets.

Virtual realities also feature in LOMO – THE LANGUAGE OF MANY OTHERS, wherein a high-school grad (Jonas Dassler) shares his life decisions with his followers on social media, eventually losing control of his life. A THOUGHT OF ECSTASY is a stream of consciousness desert trip, which stages the United States as a bizarre dreamscape and metafiction of its own.

New German Cinema is more than just dramatic fiction, however: FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2017 also features two documentaries - THE TEMPERATURE OF WILL accompanies the Legionnaires of Christ, a conservative Catholic society tested by a child abuse scandal. And Hermann Pölking addresses the perennial question of WHO WAS HITLER in his definitive seven and a half hour doc.

Marc Hosemann and Laura Tonke in FILM WITHOUT TITLE (AT)