Sometime ago, I lived in an apartment where every piece of furniture, every device no matter how little or big, everything with no exception, was a time bomb bursting with trouble and waiting for the most inconvenient possible moment to arise in full bloom. The landlords cheapened out in just about every detail, so you never knew when the next nasty surprise was about to pop up. One day, the pipes, tired of all the mistreatment, decided to conspire together with decades worth of grease and hair, and basically stopped working in the direction they were supposed to work. They must have thought that, for a change, it would be nice to do things upwards. Thus, millions of little black particles came back to the light of day where they once have lived. The bathtub was full of them in a matter of seconds. You know, they smelled kind of bad. And I am talking about industrial-watercanal-in-a-very-hot-day kind of bad. But who could blame them? I guess that pleasant fragrances are not in abundance down there. In any case, they came back, they claimed their right for a second chance and at least for a while, they were beautiful. So I grabbed my camera and started shooting endlesly, mesmerized by their dance, their patterns and their commitment. The two pieces down below came from that footage. I called them Bad Landlords.
The Deutsch Lernen Series is a collection of short films inspired by my everyday experiences learning German. The films will be released monthly and you can watch them right here. This month: Zwanzig Dinge (Twenty Things).
Some time ago I heard Harmony Korine talking about how story and character were important to him while plot seemed inconsequential in comparison. I agree with this line of thought almost one hundred percent. Don't get me wrong. I can enjoy a well crafted plot as well as the next guy. Some of my favourite films are genre movies and plot is certainly a main part of the equation there. But the more I grow up, the more I can survive on story and character only. And that holds true from the two split yet inextricable personalities that coexist within me: The storyteller and the member of the audience. Meanwhile, I seriously doubt that I could survive on plot only. A plot only diet will for sure eventually kill me if only by boredom and that fatal feeling of nothingness. So, unlike Harmony, I don't reject plot entirely but it certainly holds a distant third position in that triumvirate of storytelling ingredients.
This thought takes me to this year edition of the Berlinale. More than half of what I have managed to watch were films where everything revolved around story and character. I am talking about Atlantida, Los Ángeles or Souvenir. If you have watched any of this movies you know what I am talking about. The thing is that I watch some of these films almost by chance. It is almost as if a superior force lured me there. Or perhaps it is just that I am drawn to them because of the kind of storyteller and the kind of spectator that, over the years, I have become.
Almost effortlessly my mind drifts from the Berlinale to the city that hosts it. The place that I call my home. And I realize something else: This city is also about story and character and plot is still (or again, depending how you look at it) far in the distance. You have to squeeze your eyes to get a glimpse of it. You have to study the faded marks on certain corners or dig around a particular set of ruins, that somehow have not yet been turned into something else, to read something that resembles an outline. Then you will hear echoes of past plots that have already come full circle while those cranes on the skyline are part of a plot that will unravel itself in the near future. Meanwhile, this city is full of compelling stories and unique characters. With those two ingredients you can build yourself a home far more cozy than any plot could dream for itself in two entire lifetimes.