Berlin Viewing 2


The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

By Robert Koehler

Some small items, as it gets colder and colder in Berlin….

Barring a miraculous upset at the last moment, expect the first significant prize out of the Berlinale from the International Film Critics Federation (FIPRESCI) to go to Bela Tarr’s extraordinary, Beckettian competition film, The Turin Horse. More on Bela’s horse in an upcoming posting…

The eight-day schedule of press screenings for the Forum section ended yesterday, exactly as it began: With a genre film that may have come straight from the head of Tony Scott. The first Forum film screened was the delirious, violently entertaining and sexy noir from Congolese director Djo Tunda Wa Munga, Viva Riva!, and the last was the delirious, violently entertaining policier from Hong Kong’s Dante Lam, The Stool Pigeon. Neither are exactly “Forum films,” leaning more toward the commercial tendencies of the Panorama section, where, right after watching The Stool Pigeon, I saw another movie involving a police informant, Michael R. Roskam’s huge Belgian box office hit and skillfully made debut, Bullhead, which will be long remembered for its excruciating scene of a boy getting his testicles bashed to bits by a creepy bully wielding two rocks…

The Americans have barely registered at this festival (Miranda July’s The Future appropriately and predictably went over like a lead balloon in the competition) but they dominate one’s eating and snacking choices after you leave the cinemas for the breezy chill of the Century City-like Potsdamer Platz. If you’re not sucked into the Starbucks (where I’m writing this–free wifi!), you may be lured by the Tony Roma’s or even the McDonald’s, where they’re celebrating Mickey D’s 40th year in business in Germany by giving away free Big Macs during February. As the guys in Wenders’ Im Lauf Der Zeit (remember when Wenders actually made good films?) observe, “The Yanks have colonized our subconscious….”

A big hit in Forum is Marie Losier’s superbly fluid and piquant The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye–expect this one to play a huge festival slate throughout 2011–and Genesis P-Orridge is continuing the good vibes with a concert with his and/or her (Genesis being a self-described pan-sexual) group Psychic TV tomorrow night at the HAU (Hebbel am Ufer) here in Berlin. It’s sold out, I’m told…

A quiet backlash against the overwhelming love fest for Asghar Farhadi’s awkwardly titled Nader and Simin, a Separation, has begun. Considered the slam-dunk favorite for the Golden Bear since it first screened for the press earlier this week (to by far the most enthusiastic round of applause of any competition entry), the classically conceived drama involving a clash of families living in the wealthy north of Tehran and its poorer southern district just may not win in the end anyway. Consider that the dynamic duo of Isabella Rossellini and Guy Maddin are on the jury, and likely to dominate the deliberations; they aren’t likely to favor the strong but conventional dramatics of Farhadi over, say, the pure cinema of Tarr and Ulrich Koehler with Sleeping Sickness. (Guy, we understand, likes a few other competition films as well, some not being talked about much.) So, expect upsets and results that go against Conventional Wisdom when the prizes are announced tomorrow….

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