Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Arts Express: A Tale Of Two Truckers And Globalization In Cinema


A Tale Of Two Truckers: The Global Fiction Of Both Hollywood And Capitalism

** "This mythical beast, caring capitalism - everyone talks about it but nobody has ever seen it." 

The globalization of capitalism as exemplified by veteran UK filmmaker of conscience Ken Loach in the preceding quote while referring to his latest dramatic feature Sorry We Missed You, recently premiering at Cannes - might be viewed as much of an ironic global manifestation of fiction from Hollywood and now Netflix as well. And in that regard, German director Thomas Stuber's workingclass noir In the Aisles (In den Gängen), formulates a kind of tale of two truckers, both the different and the same, as does Loach.

In The Aisles plays out primarily within the contradictory enormous yet claustrophobic Kafkaesque confines of a wholesale supermarket warehouse - not unlike those gloomy Amazon depot catacombs. The enigmatic and brooding Christian (Franz Rogowski) signs on as a night shift worker, where the elder Bruno from the beverage department (Peter Kurth) - and not without secrets of his own - takes Christian under wing and teaches him how to operate the primary tool there, the forklift.

Eventually we learn from down time conversations between the two, that this is the former GDR (East Germany) - and that Bruno has succumbed to an unrelieved, muted despair when forced into the corporate warehouse labyrinth following German reunification - where he once enjoyed the collective human brotherhood of truckers under socialism. In contrast, Loach's trucker Kris (Ricky Turner) similarly pursued an optimistic future as a worker - but ends caught up  in the downward spiral of despair and desperation of that illusory, barely making ends meet UK deliveryman - symptomatic of the trap of the new, so-called self-employed gig economy without benefits.

And while the paradox about working stiff, economic crisis cinema exists in that the masses tend to go to the movies to get away from the nine to five downer reality - along with little patience that bourgeois film critics tend to have for the portrayal of that true to life, relentless dehumanizing drudgery as portrayed in the film - In The Aisles is inhabited by a pensive poetry all its own - and an unraveling, beyond the drama on screen urgency, however muted, to simply pay attention.

Prairie Miller

Arts Express: Airing Saturdays at 9pm ET on WBAI Radio and Pacifica stations, and streaming live everywhere and archived at wbai.org. Host, Prairie Miller

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