Memory Works: Film and Video by Matthias Müller | Chicago Reader

Memory Works: Film and Video by Matthias Müller

Matthias Müller, a founder of Germany's maverick Alte Kinder collective, creates elegant yet primal experimental shorts whose stream-of-consciousness montages are fraught with Freudian imagery. Alpsee (1995) connects memory fragments of an early-60s boyhood governed by a solicitous Barbie-doll mother. In Pensao Globo (1997) an HIV-positive man in a Lisbon hotel conjures up lovers from his past, some of whom become doppelgangers; the multiple-exposure shots and lap dissolves add to the disquieting sense of memory unhinged. Vacancy (1998) is a slyly humorous requiem for Brasilia and all the other modernist planned cities whose vast plazas and sterile office towers have become exquisite corpses; voice-overs from Beckett and Calvino reinforce the sense of urban alienation. Müller collaborated with his student Christoph Girardet on the video Phoenix Tapes, a centenary homage to Hitchcock that underscores Müller's affinity for the master's rhythm and perverse wit. Clips from 39 Hitchcock films are grouped into five segments, each dealing with some aspect of his themes, motifs, or technique: “Burden of Proof” compiles close-ups of incriminating objects, and “Why Don't You Love Me?” is a portrait gallery of sons and their protective mothers. More than a tribute or study guide, the video also provides a critique of Hitchcock's outdated attitudes and psychology.

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