Archiv der Kategorie: Corneliu Poremboiu

Berlinale 2018: Day 3

By Sascha Krieger

Transit  (Competition / Germany / Director: Christian Petzold)

In Anna Seghers‘ novel Transit, people trying to flee France just as the German occupation sets in during World War II wait for their passage, their visas, the way out. One of them is Georg played by Franz Rogowski, one of this festival’s „European Shooting Stars“, who through a number of coincidences assumes the identity of a German writer granted a visa to Mexico. Director Christian Petzold adds a special twist: while the story remains intact, the scenery in present day Marseille. This achieves several things: for one, it opens paths into today, to the refugees of our time, languishing in other port cities, waiting to flee in different directions but with the same urgency and despair. And of course, also to a present in which fascist ideologies snd „us versus them“ are becoming more mainstream every day. It also creates a distance adding to the layered approach of the film. For as the story unfolds in front of our eyes, a second narrative layer appears, the report of a bar tender, telling Franz‘ story in the pest tense. Fort the present is just remembered, the past present. It repeats itself in a never-ending cycle of waiting. The fate of the refugees is far away, viewed through the distance of Petzold’s cold, still, immaculately clean frames, the bar tender’s reading, the chiseled and always just a little abstract, formalised lines, attributed to those characters, those ghost of unseen humans from outside. A film seemingly old-fashioned and straightforward, yet layered, complex, not telling a story but the telling of it, its invention, the need for it, for giving names to the nameless. Transit is a highly intelligent and well-structured film that is also a reflection about film’s own power and limits to tell stories. However, its strength is also its weakness: the distance it creates hold the viewer at bay, makes them appreciate it intellectually but emotionally, leving them as cold as those images.

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Transit (Image: © Schramm Film / Marco Krüger)

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Berlinale 2014: Day 9

By Sascha Krieger

YE (Panorama / China / Director: Zhou Hao)

A male prostitute, his female colleague, a young man falling for the former and bonding with the latter: In YE (The Night), first-time director Zhou Hao, only 21 years old, presents a triangle as precious as it is fragile. The characters have name like Narcissus (the woman) or Rose (the young lover) and come out at night. YE is a night film and the night is a labyrinth of stairs, narrow lanes, tunnels, drenched in a reddish yellow, occasionally augmented with a cold bluish gray or a blurred grainy black and white. A series of chance and not so chance meeting and even more near misses, YE unfolds in the rhythm of the night: floating, impulsive, drifting, as if in a permanent state of intoxication. The camera is unsteady as this world is which Zhou Hao depicts in mesmerizing, hypnotic hallucinatory images which blur or are focused, are grainy or clear, calm or hectic, fragmentary or distant. YE has its very own esthetics and rhythm and morals, which are those of a night world inhabited by night people with night souls. A nightmarish dream world, the universe of drug trips and cold turkey, fascinating and painful, inescapable and disgusting. The male prostitutes narcissistic posing in front of a mirror, mouthing the words of cheesy Chinese love songs somewhat structures this otherwise freely flowing visual tale of lust, desire, love half-felt and fully resisted, despair, aimlessness. These night crawlers drift along, with no place to come from or go to, they long to hold on to each other but have learned not to, are drawn towards and at the same time reject each other. YE is an eye-opening and mind-boggling trip of a film, raw, poetic, hopeless, intoxicating. A unique look at human life and completely addictive.

YE (© Zhou Hao)

YE (© Zhou Hao)

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