Monday, December 5, 2011

a very snowy Werner: episode one ....Bruno goes to America and gets eaten by albino crocodiles (aka my review of Stroszek)

Bruno S. goes to America and America gives Bruno S. a shit sandwich. It seems America has been doling out a lot shit sandwiches lately.  Only this sandwich uses German Rye as opposed to Wonderbread and its aged, like a delicious 1977 vintage Gouda.  This is Werner Herzog’s Stroszek, the film concocted in four days for  Bruno Schleinstein (a.k.a Bruno S.), because Werner gave his role in Woyzeck away to Klaus Kinski. But the kicker,  Bruno had already taken holiday from his fork lift warehouse gig.  So Herzog, just doing what any normal human mad genius does, pulled out his hat in less time than it took me to write this review, a melancholic yet charming almost road film-fable that so effortlessly, but not simplistically, examines the illusion of the American Dream.

Bruno S. is a sad sack of man, an artist and musician of the naive strain, who upon release from prison and post a number disparagingly depressing episodes in Berlin sets is his sights on televisions, trailers and a 9 to 5 job in midwest America. In the fashion of doomed, yet endearing protagonists, he finds for himself almost equally as hapless travel companions. One is Bruno’s sweetheart, a very un-street wise recovering lady of a night and the other is his bird companion’s caretaker; an elderly wisp of a man who appears closer to the end of life’s journey, than one who is about to embark on one.

Sure, it sounds like a slit your wrists kind of film, and maybe for some it will be, but you’ll be laughing while your cutting. Herzog, intentionally or unintentionally, I’m never sure which, somehow always manages to make me laugh. Did you see Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)? Come on, albino crocodiles!? Crocodiles that can open doors!? 

Maybe Bruno S. is Stroszek’s albino crocodile, or maybe the chickens are the crocodiles? Regardless, Herzog takes a dead stare look at the golden ticket, and like many Americans have been finding out, reveals that its usually just tin foil with a bad paint job.   Stroszek shows us why Herzog was one of the stars of the New German Cinema movement, with a shot of a single captive dancing chicken, he chips away and reveals the deceit of the American dream.

*Spoiler Alert*
By the way the film isn’t about sandwiches and Willy Wonka doesn’t make an appearance.

This is my first of a few (by few I mean like maybe 3 more, I don't want be too ambitious, its just not my style) Werner Herzog related film posts over the winter. I'm calling it "A very snowy Werner". Yeah its a totally cheesy title, but I'm writing about a filmmaker who ends films with albino crocodiles.

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