Tuesday, April 10

KRAFTWRECK at Spectacle

What’s Showing Today? Tuesday, April 10
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Featured Screening: Screen Slate & SSL Present KRAFTWRECK at Spectacle • Trailer

Screen Slate returns to Spectacle tonight for KRAFTWRECK, which is timed to coincide with the inaugural evening of the run of eight sold-out shows during which the elusive, iconic synthpop progenitors will deliver a “live performance and 3-D visualization” of one of their studio albums. The ticket sale February 22 is a nownotorious disaster, with the system crashing—the technical jargon in vendor ShowClix’s apology note makes no sense even to someone like me, who runs a website while listening to music made on computers by people who pretend to be robots—and fans ended up sitting in a “digital queue” at their computer for hours unaware they were already shut out. As a result, many of even the most diligent Kraftwerk devotees were left empty-handed, with the only potential recourse being a crass, cloying Volkswagen-sponsored ticket giveaway, which leaves the bitter taste of chrome in the mouth. Fuck that.

KRAFTWRECK is an audiovisual response—an evening of film and music designed, at minimum, to be an alternative to sitting home and sulking; but it is, in fact, probably going to be way more fun than standing in a crowded museum atrium watching three strangers accompany the sole remaining original member of an ancient band. It’s not a reverent, cutesy tribute to the multimedia legacy of Kraftwerk, rather an explosion of their conceptual roots, cultural contemporaries and sometimes unlikely influence. The evening is centered around two features—Master of the Flying Guillotine at 7:30 pm and Das Millionenspiel at 9:30 pm. The former is an explosive, legendary martial arts flick by kungfu wunderkind Jimmy Wang Yu, who stars as a one-armed boxer pursued by an evil blind monk who decapitates his victims with a frisbee-like device. Shockingly, it’s scored entirely by the Krautrock music of Neu!, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk, an unlikely pairing made all the more startling by how perfectly it integrates into the film. (The other day a friend and I traded old impressions of being initially unaware the music wasn’t an original score.) Das Millionenspiel is a rarely-seen 1970 made-for-TV German movie that’s an unknown precursor to The Hunger Games, Battle Royale and The Running Man. Based on a 1958 story by Robert Sheckley, which is often cited as the first literary source predicting the reality television craze, Das Millionenspiel portrays a television show in which voluntary contestants are given seven days to elude a trio of professional assassins to win a $1 million prize. It’s a dark, thrilling and perfectly executed satire punctuated with deadpan, convincing false television commercials and man-on-the-street interviews. But perhaps most relevantly for tonight’s purposes, it features some of the very first, never-before-released music by CAN, who at the time was still performing under the name INNERSPACE.

Each feature is prefaced by a shorts programs interfacing with Kraftwerk, the features and each other. Master of the Flying Guillotine comes with a program that, like the martial arts flick, explores notions of pattern, force and movement. Interplanetary Revolution is an silent Cubo-Futurist piece of animated Soviet propaganda from 1924 that must be seen to be believed; in it, a bold soldier travels to Mars to liberate its workers from a grotesque cadre of bloated, cryto-fascist capitalist hogs. It predates similar cutout techniques of Topor & Laloux and Gilliam while making extensive use of the Constructivist aesthetic that is one of the most iconic features of Soviet propaganda and a career-long influence on Kraftwerk. Eugene Deslaw‘s La marche des machines is a Futurist take on the silent “pattern film” abstracting grace and beauty from the rhythmic propulsions of industrial machinery. And while West Germany freewheeled along the autobahn, on the other side of the Iron Curtain things weren’t so sunny; Claus Löser‘s Necrology portrays a paranoid chase of sorts through Karl-Marx-Stadt circia 1981 cut to abrasive music by Krautrock-successors This Heat. Finally, an excerpt from the 1984 dance trend movie Breakin‘—perhaps not coincidentally based on a German documentary—manifests Kraftwerk’s continuing influence in urban culture.

Extending from that, the program preceding Das Millionenspiel engages with that film—and Krautrock’s—obsession with utopian notions of speed and progress and the attendant possibilities for commercial exploitation. To varying degrees, Kraftewerk and their contemporaries all engage with the latter. The record cover of Musik von Harmonia appears as a laundry detergent advertisement, and Neu! was named as a wry parody of fellow art students’ marketing aspirations; indeed, it appears as a slogan in one of several bizarre German television commercials on view tonight.  And the narration of a minimal 1963 Volkswagen advertisement showing the car disappearing toward the horizon of a immaculately-framed test road—”es läuft und läuft und läuft und läuft…”/”it goes and goes and goes and goes…”—naturally feels reprised by the lyrics of Kraftwerk’s 1974’s “Autobahn”: “Wir fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n auf der Autobahn…”/”We’re driving driving driving on the Autobahn…” Acknowledged Krautrock progenitors The Monks were also involved in German advertising’s obsession with pop art; designer Charles Paul Wilp‘s legendarily WTF commercials for Afri-Cola, whose outré aesthetic seems intentionally reprised in Das Millionenspiel, features the band’s music. This strange melange is rounded out by three shorts: Henri Chomette‘s Jeux des reflets et de la vitesse, a Futurist-style trip along Paris’ rail and water-ways, Len Lye‘s Birth of the Robot, an industrial film commissioned by Shell to promote its oil products in which a man dies in his car and is rebirthed as friendly robot by Shell Lubricant; and another film from the GDR, former commercial designer Lutz Dammbeck’s Hommage à la Sarraz, which seems concerned with imagining an alternate history of experimental film from scattered impressions, techniques and scraps of found footage and audio available to artists working in a country with scarce access to the legacy of avantgarde film.

All that being said—expect a few more surprises in the mix. Master of the Flying Guillotine plays at 7:30 pm with Das Millionenspiel at 9:30 pm, and seats are $5 for each. View a trailer here and RSVP on Facebook here.


Spanish Cinema of the Early Post-Franco Era at Anthology Film Archives
Series Details

  • The Anchorite (Juan Estelrich). Details. 35mm. 1976. 108 min. 7:00 pm.
  • The Deputy (Eloy de la Iglesia). Details. 35mm. 1978. 110 min. 9:15 pm.

Ghett’Out Film Festival at BAMCinématek
Series Details

  • Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett). Details. Burnett Q&A. 35mm. 1977. 83 min. 6:50 pm.
  • La BM du seigneur (Jean-Charles Hue). Details. 35mm. 2010. 84 min. 9:30 pm.

Disappearing Act IV at Bohemian National Hall
Series Details

  • Panel Discussion: Contemporary Cinema at US Universities. Details. Panelists include Julia Solomonoff, Anne Kern, Richard Suchensky, Jaap Verhuel and Irena Kovarova. 6:30 pm. FREE.

Bernadette Lafont at French Institute Alliance Française
Series Details

  • A Very Curious Girl (Nelly Kaplan). Details. 1969. 107 min. 12:30, 4:00 and 7:30 pm.

Street Views at Maysles Cinema
Series Details

  • Decasia (Bill Morrison). Q&A with Bill Morrison and architect David Gersten moderated by Anthony Titus. 2002. 67 min. 7:30 pm.

Carte Blanche: Cindy Sherman at MoMA
Series Details

  • Fuego (Armando Bo). Details. Dubbed 35mm print. 1969. 90 min. 4:30 pm.
  • Office Killer and Dolls (Cindy Sherman). Details. 1997/1975. 85 min. 8:00 pm.

Three Stooges Matinees at Museum of the Moving Image
Series Details

  • Grips, Grunts and Groans, From Nurse to Worse and In the Sweet Pie and PieDetails. 1937-1943. 60 min. 2:00 pm.

KRAFTWRECK Curated by Screen Slate & S.S.L. at Spectacle
Evening Details • Each preceded by a curated shorts program

  • Master of the Flying Guillotine (Jimmy Wang Yu). Digital. Accompanied by shorts program. 1976. 93 min. 7:30 pm.
  • Das Millionenspiel (Tom Toelle & Wolfgang Menge). Digital. Accompanied by shorts program. 1970. 96 min. 9:30 pm.

Newfilmmakers at Anthology Film Archives. Details. 6:00 pm.


The Ruggles of Red Gap (Leo McCarey) at Film ForumDetails. 35mm. 1935. 92 min. 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 pm.
The Island President (Jon Shenk) at Film ForumDetails. 2011. 101 min. 1:15, 3:15, 5:30, 7:50 and 10:00 pm.
Gerhard Richter Painting (Corinna Belz) at Film ForumDetails. 2011. 94 min. 1:00, 6:10 and 10:15 pm.
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) at Film ForumDetails. 2011. 122 min. 3:00 and 8:00 pm.



Below listed North-South


  • David Lynch at Tilton Gallery, 8 East 76 Street. Open Tues-Sat 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Ends April 14.