In the Basement | Chicago Reader

In the Basement

85 minutes 2014

For the first half, Ulrich Seidl’s documentary In the Basement is a brisk, bracing, and often very funny film about the seeds of fascism in contemporary Austrian society. The people Seidl observes in his short, sketch-like sequences are generally obsessed with order and domination, yet he renders their obsession nonthreatening, if not comically pathetic, by presenting them like characters in a comic strip, centering each of them in symmetrical or near-symmetrical compositions with lots of negative space at the top. They look small in relation to their environments, which is one reason they come across like children. Another is that Seidl presents their narrow-mindedness as childish and naive, not actively malicious. These are simple people with simple outlooks; the cramped, meticulously arranged suburban basements where most of the film takes place seem like their natural habitats. Continue reading>>

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