Breaking up is hard to do, especially if you're postwar Germany. LACMA's survey "Torn Curtain: The Two Germanys on Film" enters its closing weekend with Yesterday Girl, Alexander Kluge's energetic 1966 portrait of an East German emigre floundering in the West. Buffeted from one job and affair to the next, the spirited Anita G. becomes a stand-in for the percolating anxieties and upheaval of a prosperous, amnesiac era. But instead of moping, Kluge's compact, Breathless -style storytelling goes all-out to keep up with his agitated young heroine, through hit-and-run plotting, mordant wit, montages and even time-lapse photography. Anita is resilient and a little reckless, taking potshots against the system (splurging on furs under her boss's name) and playing fast and loose with rent. Yet she also has to lock horns with a judge who brushes off her travails as the daughter of Jews, and the film rolls out a whole line-up of dismissive authority figures. She's at peace (like many of us) when in love, as with a caring cultural attachÃ© who warbles opera to her, but her story slides inexorably from manic to depressive. Kluge titled his film Goodbye to Yesterday in the original German, but the filmmaker -- a key figure in the New German Cinema and a voluminous public intellectual -- knows his way around history's ironies. Also closing out LACMA's diverse series is the feminist classic The All-Around Reduced Personality (a kind of 1977 cousin to Anita G.) and two Berlin-set suspense thrillers. The museum's related art exhibition "Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures" continues through April.
Fri., Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., 2009
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