Joachim Von Vietinghoff

Joachim Von Vietinghoff

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Werckmeister Harmonies Review


Essential
At two and a half hours, Werckmeister Harmonies is an eye-blink in comparison to director Béla Tarr's seven-hour-plus epic Sátántangó (which was acclaimed by Susan Sontag as the future of cinema and ripped off by Gus Van Sant in Elephant, Last Days, and Gerry). Tarr actually surpasses himself in this condensed format, and what felt bloated and hectoring at epic length feels precise here, and engaging on every level. The tale is told through extremely long, unbroken and fluid camera movements, some drawn out as long as 15 minutes.

Sátántangó opens with 10 minutes of cows emerging onto the muddy landscape of a farming community, which let you know you had to have a saint's patience to endure the rest of the movie. Werckmeister Harmonies, on the other hand, has a more arresting and immediately engaging sequence. It helps that Tarr follows one central protagonist this time, one János Valuska (Lars Rudolph), whom many critics have referred to as a "Holy Fool." But in fact, this supposedly simpleminded guy is a practitioner of the theatrical arts. He has more in common with great Polish theater directors like Grotowski and Artaud than he does with holy fools, and he is first glimpsed staging a bit of performance art for the drunken patrons of an alehouse right before closing time.

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Gorilla Bathes At Noon Review


Weak
In one of Dusan Makavejev's most recent works, the ravings of a man slowly slipping off his rocker are laid out bare. I don't know if I buy its moniker of "post-Communist kitsch," but it will be up to you to decide the merit of Makavejev's Gorilla Bathes at Noon on your own.

Gorilla Bathes at Noon is a very simple story (especially considering Makavejev's earlier films) about a Russian soldier named Victor (Svetozar Cvetkovic), caught in East Berlin as the wall is coming down. The clownish oaf wanders through the aftermath of communism, still adhering to his hero, Lenin. He even climbs the giant statue erected in his honor to scrub the paint from his head (see picture below). And he imagines(?) his girlfriend (Anita Mancic) in Lenin's image, complete with beard and moustache. (Of special note is Éva Ras, who appears as the girl's mother, previously was murdered by Makavejev in his film Love Affair, some 26 years earlier.)

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Joachim von Vietinghoff Movies

Gorilla Bathes at Noon Movie Review

Gorilla Bathes at Noon Movie Review

In one of Dusan Makavejev's most recent works, the ravings of a man slowly slipping...

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