Three quick things.

The Decomposition of the Soul, which opens today at Film Forum, is an exceptionally intelligent documentary about the East German secret police, the Stasi, and their nasty little habits. It's one of those documentaries that eschews some of the conventions of the talking-heads doc for something a bit more formally adventurous, a concentration on the interior landscape of the infamous Stasi headquarters at Hohenshouhausen.

The film focuses on two former prisoners, who recount their own horrific experiences at the hands of the Stasi. But the real protagonist of “Decomposition” is the building itself, an Alphaville-like succession of door-lined corridors through which passed both prisoners and keepers. Fuchs invokes Franz Kafka and it’s an astute choice; at once dreamlike and yet terribly ordinary, Hohenschauhausen is the perfect Kafkaesque world, a compound consisting of equal parts bureaucratic insensitivity, vicious cruelty and a certain dogged stupidity. Toussaint and Iannetta have made a striking and unique film that demands to be seen.

My review of the film, which I recommend unreservedly, will appear along with reviews of The Lives of Others, a new fiction film about the Stasi, and a program of films by Frank Beyer, a talented East German director, in Jewish Week tomorrow.


Second, when I saw the comment regarding my attack on Mel Gibson, my first thought was that it was a guy who I ran into on the street 20 years ago -- we were both berating some idiots tabling for Lyndon LaRouche -- who told me that "Spotlight" and Willis Carto weren't anti-Semites. (Carto is the guy who once offered a large reward -- I think it was $10K -- to anyone who could prove the Holocaust actually occurred. A survivor took him up on the challenge and eventually dragged the bastard to court and was awarded a considerable settlement.)

Okay, I just got the latest issue of Intelligence Report, an excellent and disturbing magazine put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center, with an article on anti-Semitism in the "radical Traditionalist" movement. The drop head makes it very clear that my respondent was absolutely correct. It reads: "Traditionalist Catholic groups are scattered around America and the world. But only a handful preach anti-Semitic hatred."

Clearly I owe somebody -- probably many people -- an apology for strongly implying that it is the entire Traditionalist movement that is responsible for what turns out to be a very small minority of hate-mongers. I'm genuinely sorry for the mistake.

If you want to see the article, which clearly identifies the real offenders, go here.


Finally, returning to more pleasant matters -- and more film-related ones -- I want to heartily recommend another blog, Observations on film art and FILM ART, written by Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell. Thompson and Bordwell are the authors of what I consider to be the single best introductory textbook on film, one that I used frequently during my teaching days. More than that, Bordwell has written several of the best books of film analysis in English, and is a very, very smart gent.

The current posting is about recent films from Denmark that have impressed DB. I find the "new Danish cinema" a mixed bag myself, but there is an undeniable ferment in the air there (might be the gravlax).


Thanks for the link to the SPLC article about the far-right hate groups. It's kind of cute to think people still write articles about "the New World Order and the Zionist Link." I haven't laughed that much in days.