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The Memo Book


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This rich three-night series, each program introduced by curator Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, shows why Matthias Muller has become Germany's best-known experimental filmmaker, with his compelling miniature fever dreams of imagined pasts and futures. Using found footage, movie clips, and images shot by himself and friends, he alludes to homoerotic desire, less-than-innocent childhoods, and the way Hollywood movies construct universal myths.

The eight pieces in program one, made in collaboration with Christoph Giradet, include four "Phoenix Tapes" videos (1999) in which film clips--mostly from Hitchcock--are intercut to magnify the overheated emotions while omitting the violence; in #3: Derailed a dreamer moves his head repeatedly in a shot loop while speeding trains and other images turn sleep into nightmare. In Manual (2002) a line about measuring love imparts a clinical creepiness to images of dials, meters, and an oscilloscope, whose moving line seems to capture the intangible. 85 min. a Wed 4/26, 6 PM, Northwestern Univ. Block Museum of Art.

The five films in the second program include the masterful Aus der Ferne--The Memo Book (1989), reportedly a reminiscence of a friend who died of AIDS, in which distant voices and pulsing light on figures create a sense of remembered trauma. Sleepy Haven (1993) is oddly erotic, interspersing male figures with ocean liners, and Home Stories (1990) is a witty compilation of shots from classic Hollywood melodramas combined to convey one narrative, as when several different women get out of bed and see something horrible out the window. 65 min. a Thu 4/27, 6 PM, Gene Siskel Film Center.

Of the three films and two videos in the third program, the most moving is Pensao Globo (1997). Narrator Mike Hoolboom describes an illness, perhaps AIDS, against a backdrop of superimposed figures representing the self dissolving. Vacancy (1998) meditates on Brasilia, combining old footage of its early years with narration configuring it as a dream "shattered long ago": as in other Muller works, desire blends with the past and future, terror with beauty. 71 min. a Fri 4/28, 7 PM, Univ. of Chicago Film Studies Center, 5811 S. Ellis, 773-702-8596.

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