Sunday, January 15, 2012

German Gems 2012

2012 has welcomed in another edition of the German Gems film festival at the Castro Theater in San Francisco.
This year I opted to partake of one film:

Uber uns das All (roughly 'Over us the Sky')

This film, Director+Writer Jan Schomburg's first feature (!) is an investigation into the nature of romantic relationships. What we make of them, what we will do for them, what we will allow to happen for the sake of them. Martha, the main character is set to join her successful Medical Research husband in Marseilles where he accepts a foreign research/teaching post. Inexplicably, he commits suicide soon after he arrives. In what ensues, Martha finds out that he never was a Medical Researcher, a lie that had been going on daily for 4 years and that he may have been having a secret affair with her best friend..
In the shock of all of this Martha, consciously or not, seeks to find a replacement for her lost husband. She finds him in the person of a professor of German history who after numerous shocks over the situation, apparently acquiesces and they form a new life together...

It is a puzzling movie. Free from 'big studio' demands for tidy stories, many important issues such as 'well what was her deceased husband ACTUALLY doing anyway ?' are left completely unanswered. The movie is pleasingly vague and we're left with trying our best to live in Martha's head as the tale unfolds.

The after movie Q&A session with the Director/Writer/Producer was most interesting. Questions about 'what happened that we didn't see' were met in the spirit of: 'we both saw the movie, you know as much as I' (ha ha.. very good !).
It turns out that Georg Friedrich who played the character of the history teacher is usually typecast in mainstream German movies as a bad, tough character. The interviewer mentioned that Friedrich is usually 'the bad Austrian' (I'm not sure what that means culturally speaking !). The director said that after Friedrich read the script 'he (Friedrich) was in tears that someone actually wanted him to portray a history professor' :-)

Nice experience German Gems. Thanks for another great festival !

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fishbone Documentary

Around the 80's a completely unique and wacky band appeared on the scene: 'Fishbone'. I became aware of them for the first time when their Music Video send up of the Jimmy Stewart movie 'It's a Wonderful Life' made it to broadcast (photo 2). It was crazy and original and I loved it !

This past weekend a documentary that chronicles the rise and fade of this fantastic band premiered at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. The lead singer Angelo Moore was present along with the filmmaker to answer questions after the movie. Before the screening Angelo did a music + spoken number up on the stage (see photo 1). On the saxophone, I could have believed that he was channeling 'Trane, very accomplished !

It was asserted in the movie that the band had trouble with being 'classified' by Columbia/Sony and that this was part of the reason that they never hit it big. I can thoroughly believe that. They are/were completely unpackage-able for neat tidy consumption (I wonder what the iTunes 'genius' music-style-correlator would make of this truely genius band ?).

I highly recommend the documentary if you're even mildly interested in them or want to hear about a band that could only have come to life in the U.S. (till now, I think there is still not another band like them in the U.S. or anywhere else)...