Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jason goes to Berlin and Beyond--Day 6

This night started with the silent film program of a Karl Valentin short and feature, courtesy of the Film Museum Munich.

Karl Valentin didn't have much success in his life (he was successful on stage, but not in film), but was discovered later and now his movies are fairly popular (for old black and white silents). He was also very tall and had a gigantic nose, both of which he played up in his comedy.

Anyway, first we saw a short film, "The New Desk". Karl plays a clerk who receives a new desk. It's too tall, so he cuts down the legs (he was a carpenter before making movies). Now the desk is too short, so he cuts the legs down. Repeat, until he falls through the floor. Cool.

Then his feature film, "The Oddball". Karl is a tailor by training, but there's no work for him. He's also an avid stamp collector, and a bit of a klutz. He first takes odd jobs to pay the rent, and eventually is hired on as an assistant to a tailor, where the tailor's wife takes a liking to him. Wacky hijinx, of course, ensue. Leading up to the funniest thing of all--attempted suicide! It was pretty funny, but I got the sense that a lot of his jokes that worked on stage were more verbal, and he could have done better in talkies, if he were only given the chance.

Next up was a movie that Ingrid introduced as not a comedy, so I feel kinda bad about laughing at "Import Export". A story (or two stories) that takes place in and between the Ukraine and Austria. In the first story, Olga is a nurse in the Ukraine who moves west and gets work in a geriatric ward in Austria. In the second (concurrent, and interweaving) story, Paul is an unemployed security guard who moves to the Ukraine with his stepfather, looking for a new life. It's not ha ha funny, but it is oh-my-god-that's-kinda-extreme funny. Or at least, it was to me. Yeah, their lives are pretty bleak, but there's sex, death (and the elderly near death), debasement, etc. And it's all played very matter-of-fact, almost casually. Especially the graphic, casual, commercial sexuality. That made me laugh the most.

And we're almost done. Just the closing night remains.

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