Never Look Away (2018)
February 18, 2019 8:23 AM - Subscribe

German artist Kurt Barnert has escaped East Germany and now lives in West Germany, but is tormented by his childhood under the Nazis and the GDR-regime. From the same director as The Lives of Others.
posted by jouke (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i came in late, was the aunt doing anything odd besides playing the piano naked?
posted by brujita at 6:29 PM on February 18, 2019

Before she's very artistic, asking bus drivers to all honk their horns, while she soaks in the noise, saying that all art should feel as intense. Only in the scene you mention we realise that her art sensibility was something that now veered into schizophrenia.
posted by jouke at 9:24 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Coming out of the movie I really wanted to discuss it with someone. So here we are. :-)

Some notes.

I really enjoy a view of reality that's outside of Hollywood or the US. And I have some German family, so I enjoy the German situations, the language.
My mother lived in Germany some part of WWII. Some of the scenes hew rather close to home. Fi my mother, who was 12 at the end of WWII, was a member of the BDM like tante Elisabeth in the movie and wore similar long braids. Also she had to sort out the endless piles of bricks in the industrial city her family lived in when it was reduced to rubble.
When he's in a tree, looking out on the landscape and the village and runs back to tell that he realised that whatever will happen he'll be alright, it really intrigued me. It's the kind of oceanic experience that William James wrote about.

The scenes of him and her being together and having sex were nice. It reminded me of adolescent experiences. Where you drink in the experience, the glory of youth and are annoyed by the separtion of selves.
In general unqualified good is in books or movies is a often sign of sentimentalism and bad taste. But for adolescent happy love sentimentalism and bad taste is the perfect vehicle. Especially when so tastefully filmed.
It's interesting to see the experience of soviet occupation post WWII. The ideology is so common place. Just the check points you need to hit to get ahead in life. Like in any society.
Then there was the avant gardism of germany in the 60s and 70s. Something that has even been parodied in SNL. The shot of walking through the art school in Düsseldorf gave a great overview of avant gardism. The naked men painting not only a surface but also themselves, bow shooting as a combination of performance and end result etc.
I have to say that the Beuys character, and his theory of art, to me strikes mostly as where western modern art lost the plot. Not that much better than social realism to me. I'm not sure what the movie makes of post WWII avant gardist art.
There's something in bad taste in this movie. Where the story is just too schematic. An example: The scene where he enters the same room as his aunt, feels the same bookcase ledge as her, sees the same childrens picture, facing the same authority figure, glances at the corner where his aunt cowered before being dragged away.
The inability to have children but in the end they do.
Having watched his previous movie The Tourist I get the impression that he's a really tacky director who, if he's saved, it's by great period detail.

Some criticism:
There's the final art. The art without artist (Werk ohne Autor) from the title. Living in 2019 I couldn't help thinking that his technique of slightly wiping out photo realistic paintings would be extremely easy to replicate using neural networks. Something that's striking because it's hard to do for humans. But easy for computers 50 yrs later.
The poetica of finding the most personal truth. Like Beuys' felt and fat. I think that the most personal truth is literally meaningless if the artist doesn't achieve to give it broader relevance.
Beuys' genius style lectures strike me as self indulgent. Etc.
There's the flash of insight. Lotto numbers are random, but within the lotto they're meaningful. That disappointed me a great deal as a visionary foundation for art. To me the meaning of lotto numbers are clearly defined within the context of a language action, or transaction, of gambling. Like a lot of meaning in society. No mystery about what's random becoming meaningful. A disappointing observation.

I watched his previous movie The Tourist. Such a tacky expensive Hollywood celebrity vehicle.
Made me wonder whether the large pause was caused by an artistic crisis. This movie being the directors equivalent of the well known trope of the book about a writer who can't get to write.

All in all I really enjoyed this movie and thought quite a bit about what it says about art.
posted by jouke at 11:19 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Review in the Guardian.
posted by jouke at 7:44 AM on July 4, 2019

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