Berlin & Beyond Film Festival 2012: “Breathing”, and “The Wall”

Breathing

Unless you are choking or suffocating, the act of breathing isn’t usually a claustrophobic endeavor.  This is not the case in actor turned director/writer Karl Markovics‘ (who is best known for his lead role in The Counterfeiters) impressive debut, Breathing.

From the opening scene, where the film’s incarcerated central figure, young Mr. Kogler, is introduced to us screaming at a welding helmet unwillingly placed upon his head, to the overcast days that follow, we are bombarded with an array of confined framing; a prison cell, train cars, a pool, the shoveling corpses to and from the morgue.  Even the mundane task of being in IKEA feels restricting.

To say that Markovic’s intentions of making the viewer relate to the protagonist’s afflicting state of mind is a bit of an understatement.  All this cinematic claustrophobia – which is impressively shot, even if it is digital – does not exist without good reason.  And it isn’t until the film’s beautiful final shot that we are finally able to tilt our heads back and omit that long-awaited sigh of relief and breathe again.

Showtimes for Breathing – Monday, Oct. 1st 8:30pm (Goethe-Institut Auditorium 530 Bush St.)

The Wall

Why oh why couldn’t there have been an invisible wall surrounding my entranceway to the screening room where I saw this movie?  As far as my cinematic tastes are concerned, I struggle to recall the last time I wanted to regurgitate a piece of film this badly.

The Wall, directed by Julian Pölsler, not to be confused with Pink Floyd‘s vastly superior rock opera from 1982, left a horrible and disappointing taste in my mouth.  No matter how many popsicle sticks I now shove down my throat I still can’t upchuck the fountain of pretentious voiced-over philosophical quandaries in relation to the human condition that this film had to offer fast enough.  For all those who have ever wondered what a book club discussion on all things Friedrich Nietzsche would sound like, look no further.

In other, more kinder words, it just wasn’t for me.

Showtimes for The Wall – Sunday, Sept 30th 4:00pm (Castro Theatre)

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