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Rimini at UW Cinematheque
November 10, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree
At a long shot from a glitzy stage, singer Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) leads his dozens of fans in a singalong.
Excerpt from Maxwell Courtright’s review:
The milieu of writer-director Ulrich Seidl’s films provides a unique sandbox for looking at our difficulties in living with modern history. This sort of blank stare towards contemporary pain is nothing new for Seidl, who continues in this very Austrian vein found in films by Michael Haneke and writers like Thomas Bernhard. Bernhard, in particular, seems like a touchstone, as he shares with Seidl a deep sense of frustration with the Austrian national identity. (Bernhard famously forbade the performance of his plays in Austria following his death in 1989.) Both authors struggle with the post-Holocaust identity of their country, where they clearly feel they hold a sort of hereditary responsibility for the atrocities of yore. There is no clear path forward.
Seidel repeatedly underlines protagonist and lounge singer Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas)’s Trump-like qualities in the film, from his melting spray tan to the cheap decal self-portraits that decorate his home with thumbs-ups and toothy grins. But Seidl retains some sympathy for this oaf, as his failures are soft. Bravo is a true buffoon who has inherited a debt he’s not prepared to atone for. He’s on the other side of luck without a family, relying on outdated music with an ever-declining fan base for his income. For Bravo, his overheated pop hits of yesterday are the cultural equivalent of a Band-Aid for a deep wound, and his struggles to create a life for himself in the remote locale of Rimini are reminiscent of a country unsure how to move beyond its past.
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