Looks so good! Opening-night movie as GERMAN CURRENTS Film Festival returns

Madame Houpflé (Maria Furtwängler) in Confessions of Felix Krull (2021

Los Angeles is somewhat unsteadily getting back onto its feet as the international capital of film that it is. And here comes the German Currents Film Festival. We’re electrified!

The return of in-personal screenings (there is also a virtual option for stay-at-homes) is frankly joyful. German Currents has been a mainstay of Los Angeles’ cultural calendar bringing the look, feel, ideas, cinematographic talent and creativity to our eyes. Celebrating its 15th edition this year, German Currents returns to the American Cinematheque and the brand-new Goethe-Institut space in the MacArthur Park neighborhood as a hybrid event including special in-person and virtual cinema screenings.

The opening night film, a costume drama, has captured my eye. German Currents 2021 will open with the North America Premiere of Detlev Buck’s visually dazzling period piece CONFESSIONS OF FELIX KRULL, based on Thomas Mann’s novel of the same name. Set in Paris, the film concerns Felix Krull (Niewöhner), a handsome young man of simple origins, who has had an extraordinary ability to transform and adapt. And get ahead. Taking a job as an elevator boy at a luxury hotel in Paris, he seizes every opportunity to improve his station. The opportunities are rife. It’s a hotel!

“Felix Krull” is showing with limited seating at the Los Feliz Cinema 3. Reserve your seat here.

TOO FAR AWAY (ZU WEIT WEG) – German Currents 2021 Family Matinee Oct 24

There’s so much on offer. Films are listed here. And, people! The Festival Pass is only $25. Buy one here. There is a free film option here.

May I personally wish you fun movie-going? Movies are better on big screen and in person. So go!

German Currents Film Festival | Goethe-Institut Space, MacArthur Park, Los Feliz 3 Cinema, or virtual | Oct 22 – 31

leave a comment

What is this man thinking? Don’t ask, just go see ‘Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn’

Film · Ideas & Opinion · Reviews
Photo credit: Silviu Ghetie. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

He resembles an Every Man, doesn’t he? Someone Bertolt Brecht might portray in a play — in the good old days, the 1930s. He is the contemporary Romanian film director, Radu Jude, who, borrowing from Brecht for his edgy new movie, BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, puts his audience’s nose right in it. And when I say “it,” I mean, baby, be prepared. This detonating bombshell of a squirm-worthy, Zeitgeist-seizing, post-Communist, post-consumerist, post-romantic, post-Punk, post-urban squalor, post-individualist, post-privacy, post-authoritarian ruckus of a movie shows a society in which, if you so much as bump into someone, they will erupt into a filthy rant, a barrage of vile slander meritorious of the wretched mouth of Donald Trump.

Unnervingly(we’re seeing this in the U.S. every day), this aberrant, unacceptable behavior elicits not so much as a “ho hum.” It is normal.

Loony Porn concerns Emi (Katia Pascariu), a school teacher whose randy sex life (with her husband we are repeatedly informed, as though that is very important, but why should it be?), has been exposed when a personal sex tape is uploaded onto the Internet. This most banal premise, easy for anyone to imagine, forms the genius springboard from which Mr. Jude, the movie’s auteur, sketches, paints, and throws paint bombs at his audience in hot pink.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

At the center of this imaginative, propulsive movie are several long tracking shots as Emi’s walks the mean streets of Bucharest toward a “Parent-Teacher meeting” (remember the PTA?). She has been summoned and her livelihood is in jeopardy. The dear parents, wishing to protect their precious bundles from a sex maniac, are sharpening their fangs. What gives “Loony Porn” its wonderful edge is not the demonic stuff, but the propriety with which our lady hero, the sole character in this nuthouse of a movie to keep her cool, hangs onto her dignity and integrity. She is a super hero. (That may be a spoiler.) The fact that she comes under verbal attack is not softened whatsoever by the fact that the actors are wearing masks — for a movie filmed during the COVID pandemic — which only adds another layer of despair to the proceedings. Mr. Jude, yes, his name translates as “Jew,” has hit the nail on the head.

After the massive success of Parasite (2019), and now, Looney Porn (2021), this viewer is left wondering why it is that cinema’s creators from the second world, Bong Joon-ho in South Korea and Mr. Jude in Romania, who ostensibly have less-rich resources to draw upon, are stepping up with courage and vision to tackle our civilization’s obvious decline … where are the American filmmakers of this ilk?

The tour of Bucharest is a scathing encounter with urban decay, crapola consumerism, noise and human unkindness that reads as a cautionary tale for our own society, inexorably sliding down the same slippery slope. A masterful movie.

Arts journalist Debra Levine is founder/editor/publisher of arts●meme.

leave a comment

On Esa-Pekka envy & the glory of Ory Shihor

Dance · Music
Classical music notes … Esa-Pekka Salonen‘s departure after “helming” the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 17 years was sad. I’m not over it! But at least he’s been tucked away, out of range, in faraway London. Now, in a shock to the classical music world and a great coup for the city of San Francisco, he ...

On International Animation Day, French short subjects at Theatre Raymond Kabbaz

Pierre Leloup, artistic director of Theatre Raymond Kabbaz appreciates film animation and doesn’t believe it should just be for kids: “Animated film is an art form in its own on right,” says Pierre, adding that these marvelous, hand-crafted movies “efficiently introducing challenging topics in a visually compelling way, leaving plenty of room for symbolism, fantasy, ...

REVIEW: Modern dance’s vivid origins in St. Denis/Shawn historic restagings 1

Dance · Reviews
DANCES BY RUTH ST. DENIS & TED SHAWN September 30 – October 3, 2021The Theatre at St. Jean’s 150 East 76th St, New York City Bradley Shelver in Japanese Spear Dance by Ted Shawn (1919)photo Julie Lemberger Of the eloquent, elegantly presented sampling of choreography by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn on view in ...

Hollywood Heritage’s Halloween hangout with ‘glamour ghoul’ Vampira 2

Dance · Film
She was born Maila Nurmi, which seems ghoulish enough. But she went by the mononym, Vampira. For those of us who did not grow up in Los Angeles watching this strange, mysterious lady host horror movies on late-night television (I grew up in Pittsburgh, where our Vampira was not nearly as sexy: “Chilly Billie” Cardille, ...

More than a ‘mogul’: 20th C-Fox’s Darryl Zanuck in new Eyman book and on TCM 3

New Eyman book for Running Press The respected and feared Darryl F. Zanuck ran his studio, Twentieth Century-Fox, like a Swiss watch and devised entertainment for the masses, including bright musicals starring Fox blondes Alice Faye, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, even Shirley Temple. He commandeered technologically innovative epics (The Robe, the movies’ first CinemaScope production), ...

Ida Rubinstein, diva/dancer/actress of fascination, in new Holder play

Dance · Theater
A new show opens this week in London: It’s a theatrical presentation about “dance’s forgotten diva.” Which … I always thought … was me! But in the reality-based universe, our friend, Christian Holder, has another dance diva in mind. Holder, the great former star principal dancer with The Joffrey Ballet and a Renaissance man, following ...

You go, Ruth & Ted! Denishawn revisited

Dance · Theater
It’s time to show some respect to Mom and Dad. In the lovable, but mildly dysfunctional family that is American modern dance, we kids all descend from the same parents. Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn were two brave souls who saw, then sought, a world beyond their respective birthplaces in rural New Jersey and ...

In loving memory of Emma Lewis Thomas, a champion of Los Angeles dance 5

ed. note: Emma Lewis Thomas, a beloved dance professional, a university professor, and woman of humor and true grit, died last Thursday at her home in Montana. A few words of loving memory of Lew here. Please feel free to add comments to the post. Please drop me a line if you would like to ...