Review: ‘Berlin-Cinema’

Two of the cinema's Big Thinkers do just that in frosh Samira Gloor Fadel's sublimely passionate docu "Berlin-Cinema (Titre Provisoire)." Wim Wenders(seen) and Jean-Luc Godard (heard) muse on space, time and place as serene images lovingly explore the restored German capital (including numerous Wenders locations) on the verge of mammoth architectural change. There's no middle ground here; pic will prove a balm for the soul of the initiated and cod liver oil on the tongue of everyone else.

Two of the cinema’s Big Thinkers do just that in frosh Samira Gloor Fadel’s sublimely passionate docu “Berlin-Cinema (Titre Provisoire).” Wim Wenders(seen) and Jean-Luc Godard (heard) muse on space, time and place as serene images lovingly explore the restored German capital (including numerous Wenders locations) on the verge of mammoth architectural change. There’s no middle ground here; pic will prove a balm for the soul of the initiated and cod liver oil on the tongue of everyone else.

Wenders is seen editing, lecturing and, in pic’s strongest ongoing set piece, swapping ideas on film and design with architect Jean Nouvel. Aural punctuation exists in the form of Godard’s thoughts as well as passages from German texts read by the French director and thesp Rudiger Vogler, supplemented by spoken-word snippets from Wenders’ films. Final element is young bicyclist, billed only as Thomas, pedaling around Berlin bemoaning the death of Rainer Werner Fassbinder and reciting from the published essays of Fassbinder, Wenders and Godard. Cumulative effect is soothing and inspirational, with ideas flying thick and fast. Tech credits are velvety and crisp, even on Toronto’s projected vid.

Berlin-Cinema

(DOCU -- SWISS-FRENCH -- B&W/COLOR)

Production

A Les Films de la Terrasse (Vevey)/La Sept-Arte (Paris) production. (International sales: Les Films de la Terrasse, Vevey, Switzerland.) Directed by Samira Gloor Fadel. Texts by Franz Hessel, Ruth-Andreas Friedrich , Ilma Rakusa. Camera (B&W/color, Super 16), Philippe Bonnier, Patrice Cologne, Fadel, Denis Jutzeler, Jacques Loiseleux, Sophie Maintigneux, Hugues Ryffel; editors, Camille Bordes Resnais, Isabelle Dedieu, Alexandre Malcotti; music, Mahmut Demir, Jean-Louis Valero. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 14, 1999. (Also in Edinburgh Film Festival.) (French, German, English and Kurdish dialogue.) Running time: 106 MIN.

With

With: Wim Wenders, Jean Nouvel, Thomas, Jean-Luc Godard (voice), Rudiger Vogler (voice).
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