B-Movie Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989 – it’s long and unwieldy, but it’s also quite straightforward, unlike some film titles. It doesn’t need to be decoded or anything.
B-Movie is a documentary film with three directors (Klaus Maeck, Jörg Hoppe, Heiko Lange) and one guide – Mark Reeder, a musician and one-time record store employee from Manchester, England, whose interest in German music took him to Berlin in the late 1970s.
The directors had access to many film clips from the era, including some by Reeder himself, and they use Reeder’s experiences and his narration to tie everything together. Actor Marius Weber plays Reeder in some re-enactments. Mark Reeder is 58 now, but his voice still sounds youthful and enthusiastic, like that of a person still in his 20s.
And lest we think the film is only about looking backwards, Reeder told The New Statesman “Artists still come to Berlin searching for something, whether they stay for a few months or a few years. And this film is about inspiration. Not nostalgia.”
Footage includes day and night streetscapes, violent demonstrations, musical performances, interviews and visits to music clubs. (Reeder explains that typical night out might begin at midnight and end at 7 or 8 a.m.). German bands who play and talk include Malaria!, Shark Vegas, Einstürzende Neubauten, Die Tödliche Doris, Die Artze, and Die Toten Hosen.(Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubauten played with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds between 1983 and 2003.) There is a brief glimpse of Nena, who had the hit 99 Luft Balloons. Musician Farin Urlaub appears, wearing a clerical collar.
Singer Eric Burdon appears with a rodent on his shoulder, artist Keith Haring paints the Berlin Wall, TV star David Hasselhoff sings while wearing a flashing-light jacket AND a piano key scarf – guess he’s not one of those “less is more” types.
These days, Tilda Swinton looks ageless to me, but we see a few seconds of her looking really young. Swinton appeared in the 1991 German film The Party: Nature Morte; presumably Reeder met her through his bit part in it. (His part was “Drunk.”)
In regard to artists from English-speaking countries, the Australian Nick Cave gets the most screen time. He lived in West Berlin for three years and stayed with Reeder until he found a place of his own.
West Berlin rents were cheap in those days, though Reeder and many others lived in “squats” and didn’t pay any rent at all. Nevertheless, a person needs some money to live on and Reeder earned his as the Berlin representative of British company Factory Records, as a record producer, a band manager, and dubbing porn films. In addition to The Party, he also appeared in Joan of Arc of Mongolia, and the horror film Nekromantik 2, directed by Jörg Buttgereit.
My one quibble with this film: Reeder has a fetish for uniforms, because they “hard-wearing, practical and they get people mad.” Some of them are Nazi uniforms, or the look like Nazi uniforms. For me, that’s just creepy and distasteful.
B-Movie Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979- 1989, is being shown at 7 pm, Thursday, May 5, 2016 at Cinema du Parc, 3575 av du Parc, as part of the Goethe Institute’s once-a-month Achtung Film series. It’s 92 minutes long, in German with English subtitles.