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The American Friend


















The American Friend (1977),
directed by Wim Wenders


                  What's New
The Legacy is back! Sybille Bedford's 1956 novel about elite Imperial German society features "Prussian pride, political scandal, anti-Semitism, and moral negligence, which is the legacy, in a word, of the twentieth century." (The New York Review of Books, 3/5/15; The Quarterly Conversation, 3/16/15; The Wall Street Journal, 3/20/15) "The level of debate between Germany and Greece, protagonists in a drama that could make or break the euro zone, could hardly be called edifying."  (The New York Times, 3/19/15; The Economist, 3/21/15) See Wim Wendersand more than twenty of his filmsat the Museum of Modern Art, now through March 17.  (This Week in Germany, 2/14/15; Financial Times, 2/27/15; The Wall Street Journal, 3/1/15)


                  Germany, global leader?
"Germany is emerging, faster than it wanted, as a global diplomatic force."  (The Economist, 2/28/15; The New York Times, 2/28/15; The Guardian, 3/6/15) Strange new world: nobody ever  imagined "Germany would be negotiating directly with Russia—or that France would be too weak, Britain too inward-looking, and the United States too uninterested to object."  (Slate, 2/20/15) "The world's most powerful leader isn't Obama or Putin—it's Angela Merkel." (The New Yorker, 12/1/14; The Guardian, 12/22/14; Vanity Fair, 1/2015; The Guardian, 1/7/15; The Globe and Mail, 2/12/15; The Guardian, 2/15/15)


                   Music
No new concert hall for Munich, Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer has announced, angering Mariss Jansons, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and many more.  (Forbes, 2/4/15; Deutsche Welle, 2/9/15; Forbes, 3/4/15) Better start warming up to "Black Smoke": There was a surprise twist at the end of Germany's Eurovision finals.  (The Local Germany, 3/6/15) "It's like a historical recovery project, with Schoenberg’s ‘voice’ and dissonant material being deployed by utility carts.” (USC News, 2/26/15)


                  Art & Design
Sounds like a terrific book waiting to be written: "A History of Berlin Told Through U-Bahn Typography".  (The Guardian, 3/11/15) In memoriam: Frei Otto (1925-2015). His groundbreaking lightweight architecture was inspired by postwar shortage.  (The New York Times, 3/10/15; The Guardian, 3/11/15; ArchDaily, 3/11/15; The Economist, 3/11/15) What to give the aficionado of East German visual culture on your holiday list? Here are two inspired suggestions.  (The New York Times, 12/5/14; Metropolis, 2/2015; The Atlantic, 2/19/15)


                  Books & Ideas
The Legacy is back! Sybille Bedford's 1956 novel about elite Imperial German society features "Prussian pride, political scandal, anti-Semitism, and moral negligence, which is the legacy, in a word, of the twentieth century." (The New York Review of Books, 3/5/15; The Quarterly Conversation, 3/16/15; The Wall Street Journal, 3/20/15) "The stories the Brothers Grimm first collected are brusque, blunt, absurd, comical, and tragic, and are not, strictly speaking, 'fairy tales'"...rather, their first collection was shaped as an "archaeological excavation" and intended for adult readers.  (Humanities, March/April 2015) Find out more about the "engaged democrats" of the immediate postwar era who helped lay the foundations of Germany's political culture today.  (New Books in History, 1/30/15)


                  Film
"No one had the intention to destroy the Wall. After all, it was the life insurance for West Berlin." B-Movie recalls the mid-1980s counterculture of a divided city.  (Dazed, 3/18/15) What if Georg Elser had succeeded in his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1939? Oliver Hirschbiegel's 13 Minutes is "a meticulous contextualization of the increments by which an ordinary man may come to commit an extraordinary act." (Indiewire, 2/12/15; The Guardian, 2/15/15; The Economist, 2/18/15) "Blatantly stagy and inventively cinematic," The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a Fassbenderian concoction you won't forget.  (The New York Times, 3/6/15)


                  Theater
"If there’s one thing about which I feel confidentdespite the radical contingencies that typify our worldit’s that there will be no rioting or disruption whatsoever at the Royal Opera’s production of Mahagonny." Good call, Will Self.  (The Guardian, 3/13/15) The Berliner Staatsoper celebrates Alban Berg, "one of the 20th century’s most innovative composers, a man who is paradoxically also one of its most nostalgic Romantics."  (The Economist, 3/11/15) "The frontcloth to ENO's new production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg features a collage of 103 of the most famous cultural figures from the German-speaking world. How many can you name?"  (The Guardian, 2/5/15)


                  History
"Today, the construction and demolition of the Berlin Wall feels like a parenthesis in a text— whatever is written in between can be removed without fundamentally altering the course of the narrative," laments Reinier de Graaf.  (Metropolis, 2/2015) Elizabeth Kolbert on the Stolpersteine and the upcoming trial of Auschwitz bookkeeper Oskar Gröning: both are a "kind of public art on the theme of its inadequacy."  (The New Yorker, 2/16/15) "In the late 19th century, the German postal service was considered one of the great wonders of the modern world."  (Financial Times, 3/6/15)


                  Et Cetera
"The level of debate between Germany and Greece, protagonists in a drama that could make or break the euro zone, could hardly be called edifying."  (The New York Times, 3/19/15; The Economist, 3/21/15) Berlin still isn't as cool as it used to bebut now we can blame it on the "post-tourists".  (New York, 3/17/15) Hooray for the Tempelhof airfield! "Berlin will ultimately not further develop a hugely valuable piece of real estate, all because the people decided they didn’t trust big business not to mess up the park they loved."  (The Guardian, 3/5/15)