DID YOU READ

“The White Ribbon” and “Divided Heaven” on DVD

“The White Ribbon” and “Divided Heaven” on DVD (photo)

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Another Teutonic act of queasy self-analysis, Konrad Wolf’s “Divided Heaven” (1964) is something like the “Rebel Without a Cause” of Cold War-crazed East Germany, made during a cultural thaw that oddly coincided with the erection of the Berlin Wall.

It’s a New Wavey romance, a tale of young lovers trying to find happiness under Communism, but as much as it feels robustly Truffautian (especially all those rooftop shots of the Berlin streets and sidewalks), it’s not gritty but spiffy, polished and visually rich, almost the GDR version of “The Cranes Are Flying.”

The new, severing vibrations of The Wall, barely mentioned and never seen, haunts the action, which is often overtaken with factory politics, union vs. management vs. worker, and witchhunting at university, where a co-ed’s parents jumping ship to the West is enough to get her expelled and painted as a lackey of imperialism.

As Rita, the passive factory girl who links up with a cranky chemical engineer and scion of her factory’s management (Eberhard Esche), Renate Blume is one of those movie faces that changes depending on how you look at her, reedy Natalie Wood maiden one minute, doe-eyed Juliette Binoche lost girl the next. Wide-eyed and sympathetic, she’s a classic foil for the story’s social tensions, which eventually carry the couple over the Wall and into the intimidating freedom of the West.

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Still, the loveliest thing about Wolf’s movie is its generational vibe — the era’s requisite youthful fire is in great supply, but this was also when movies discovered that sometimes, people just hung out, and young people in love hang out a lot — as well as its meaning for Germans of a particular age, then and now. (In 1994, it was voted the 57th most important German film of all time in a survey of filmmakers and critics, above Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” and films by Herzog, Dreyer and Pabst.)

It always fascinates me — if not everyone else, I know — to discover films that have been epochal touchstones in the lives of entire filmgoing publics and yet have remained more or less unknown to us in the English-speaking, supposedly tastemaking West.

To an entire slice of postwar Northern Europeans, “Rebel Without a Cause” (or pick your anthem film) could be “the American ‘Divided Heaven,'” not the other way around.

“The White Ribbon” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) is now available on DVD and Blu-ray; “Divided Heaven” (First Run Features) is now available on DVD.

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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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