West Berliners really did dig Hasselhoff. They also enjoyed Joy Division, the
Bad Seeds, WestBam, Malaria! (exclamation point part of the cult band’s name)
and Nena (99 Luftballoons), whom they really, really loved for a brief but
shining period in the early 1980s. British expat Mark Reeder was there to hear
it all. Reeder takes an archival nostalgia trip in Jörg A. Hoppe, Heiko Lange
& Klaus Maeck’s B-Movie: Lust &
Sound in West Berlin 1979-1989 (trailer here), which screens during KINO! 2016, the German
Film Festival in New York.
should absolutely acknowledge anyone who spent as much time in record shops as
Reeder did as a kindred spirit. Growing up as an unemployable youth in Manchester
during the Labour governments of Wilson and Callaghan, Reeder adopted German
synthesizer music as his thing. Ironically, he left for West Berlin in 1979,
just as the economy was about to rebound under Thatcher. Perversely, West
Berlin seemed to exist in a state of permanent depression bordering on surreal,
demilitarized squalor. Yet, the locals seemed to like it that way. It kept
rents cheap, squats ignored, and the club scene raging into the not so early
hours of the morning.
it is a little annoying to hear the entitled scensters whine about the FRG’s
crackdown on RAF terrorism and the like, while their parents in Munich, Bonn,
and Frankfurt footed the bills. At least, Reeder was rather industrious,
managing Malaria!, playing in Shark Vegas, dubbing porn, and hosting music
programs for British television. He also personally documented the scene quite
extensively on Super 8, but to confuse matters, Marius Weber often appears as
Reeder in retro-looking recreations.
the film finally acknowledges there was a rather conspicuous Wall dividing
Berlin. In fact, Reeder deserves credit for frequently smuggling records to
East Berlin’s underground Punks. Frankly, he comes off better than the milieu
he was swimming in, especially the German Punks who adopted National Socialist
iconography, like their American counterparts. Still, the Wild West vibe
inspired expats like David Bowie and Nick Cave to do some of their best work there.
Although he is
underrepresented in B-Movie, Bowie
still emerges as the film’s most significant figure for his historic
Brandenburg Gate concert, deliberately produced so his fans in the East could hear
songs like “Heroes.” Frankly, the film ought to have a better sense of the big
picture, but instead, it is an idiosyncratic, intermittently diverting account
of West Berlin’s cross-pollinating Punk, New Wavish, and proto-electronica
scenes. Mostly just recommended for fans of the bands Reeder hung out with, B-Movie: Lust & Sound screens
tonight (4/8) and Monday (4/11) at the Cinema
Village, as part of this year’s KINO! In New York.
Labels: Documentary, German Cinema, KINO '16