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Allemagne 90 Neuf Zéro

Germany Year 90 Nine Zero

France 1991
produced by
Nicole Ruellé for Production Brainstorm/Antenne 2
directed by Jean-Luc Godard
starring Eddie Constantine, Hanns Zischler, Claudia Michelsen, Nathalie Kadem, André S. Labarthe, Robert Wittmers, Kim Kashkashian, Andon Mossine, Heinz Przbylski, Kerstin Boos, H.J. Jurgen, Uwe Grzechowski, Jochen Gliscinsky, Iva Svarcová, Elfi Gäbel
written by Jean-Luc Godard, based on a character created by Peter Cheyney

Lemmy Caution, Don Quixote (cameo)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Years, maybe decades ago, US-agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) was sent to East Germany as a mole by the West - and then he was forgotten, because, well, times move on. Now it's 1990, the Berlin Wall has fallen, Communism has crumbled, and in times like this, who would need a mole in East Germany? So Lemmy packs his bags to go back home, walking through the industrialized East German landscape like a charactger taken out of time, like a modern day Don Quixote - but not even that, as he finds out when he actually meets Don Quixote (Robert Wittmers), who at least finds more advanced windmills to fight in the industrialized landscape.

Eventually, Lemmy's journey ends in a cheap motel in the West, where he finds the only difference is that he finds a bible instead of Marx's The Capital on the nighttable.

 

Jean Luc Godard's reinterpretation of the Lemmy Caution character in new times, about the espionage genre as such, and of the soulless and all-too-abrupt replacement of one political and economic system for another in the mirror of German culture has all the makings of a fascinating movie ... but unfortunately, it's not. Instead, Godard has cluttered this film with cultural references that are sometimes way too blunt to seem inspiring, at other times totally incomprehensible since one can't be expected to be familiar with Godard's entire reading list. On top of that, apart from the scene with Don Quixote, the film is disappointingly free of satire and irony - which is a shame, since that's one of lead actor Eddie Constantine's strengths. At the same time, Godard seems to have invested little thoughts in the espionage aspects of his story aside from quoting Lemmy Caution filmtitles every now and again. And finally, Godard's cinematic language seems to have lost its urgency: The pictures he tells his story in are almost uniformly unexciting, the stock footage and title cards seem to be thrown in rather at random than to serve a cause, and his associative form of filmmaking borders the pretentious more than once. And while some of Godard's films from the 1960's - including his earlier take on Lemmy Caution, Alphaville - seem fresh to this very day, this much later work seemed already dated even upon its arrival, as if it was not so much the swansong of Lemmy Caution as of Jean-Luc Godard himself (but fortunately, he kept making movies, to often way better results).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD