Germany Year 90 Nine Zero | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Germany Year 90 Nine Zero

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Jean-Luc Godard's devastating 1991 film about the collapse of the Berlin Wall is probably the most underrated and neglected of his major late films, perhaps because its hour-long running time makes it difficult to program theatrically. The basic conceit is that Lemmy Caution, the American-style tough guy of Godard's Alphaville--Eddie Constantine in his last performance--has been working as a mole in East Berlin since the 60s; cast adrift in West Germany, he wanders through a puzzling post-cold war landscape littered with historical memories of various kinds. Sorrowful and funny, bittersweet and elegiac, Germany Year 90 Nine Zero has an emotional directness rare in Godard's work, and it's certainly the most accessible of his late films. Also on the program is Alain Resnais' extraordinary documentary Night and Fog (1956, 32 min.), one of the first and still one of the best cinematic treatments of the Holocaust. Written by Jean Cayrol (who subsequently scripted Resnais' Muriel), with music by Hanns Eisler, the film is both a formal and a philosophical precursor to Shoah in its use of contemporary death-camp locations. The Godard film, screening in a 16-millimeter print, is in French and German, the Resnais, screening in 35-millimeter, is in French; both are subtitled. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Saturday, November 16, 4:00, and Thursday, November 21, 6:00, 312-846-2800.

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