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Mexico City's artsy underground, trippy animation: Unusual films screening in September

'This is Not Berlin'

'This is Not Berlin'

Here are three great indie flicks screening this September.

This Is Not Berlin

Landmark Theaters

One week starting Sept. 13

Directed by Hari Sama, This Is Not Berlin drops audiences into the post-punk madness of Mexico City in 1986. He explores the scene from the perspective of a 17-year-old boy who doesn’t fit in anywhere and is in need of a jolt of weirdness. 

When Carlos, played by Xabiani Ponce de León, is invited to a nightclub that is part of the mythical underground scene, he is captivated. Soon, he finds himself enjoying drugs, having casual sex, and making new friends who want to help him blossom as an artist.

Sama deploys set pieces that pointedly illustrate the two worlds Carlos is navigating: one where he experiences boundless curiousity and another where he’s expected to adhere to the status quo. 

Love and Anarchy (1973)

Trylon Cinema

7 p.m. Sept. 15

$8

Lina Wertmüller is the mid-century film provocateur you’ve never heard of and should get to know. 

Before becoming the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for best director (Seven Beauties, 1977), the Italian director teamed up with actors Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangela Melato to make a series of society-bending flicks testing the limits of sex, violence, and patriotism (Wertmüller came up in the aftermath of Mussolini). 

Love and Anarchy (1973) is about a guy called Antonio (Giannini) whose friend is killed while attempting to assassinate Mussolini. Antonio decides he’ll finish the job, but visits a brothel first to settle his nerves. 

At the brothel, the gaze and perspective of the movie shifts from the masculine and murderous to the point of view of the prostitutes. The sex workers are silly and flirtatious, liberated by the judgement-free zone that they work in. 

Antonio shares his assisination plot with his pro, Salomè (Melato). Her boyfriend was killed by the dictator, so she joins Antonio’s cause and gets another prostitute to team up. When the day comes to carry out the deed, though, the women start having second thoughts. 

Wertmüller’s direction doesn't just excel at masterfully layering big cultural ideas about sexual mores and politics over scenes of debauchery and fun; Love and Anarchy also superbly balances glorious, contemplative wide shots with informative, highly stylized close-ups. 

La Casa Lobo (The Wolf House) (2018)

Walker Art Cinema

7 p.m. Sept. 25 & 27; 2 p.m. Sept. 28

$10

Depending on the project, stop-motion animation walks the line between creepy (A Nightmare Before Christmas) and tender (Wallace & Gromit). Chilean directors Cristóbal León and Joaquin Cociña use it to summon powerful emotions in La Casa Lobo (The Wolf House).

The story centers on Mary, a woman holed up in a strange, dark house after escaping a German colony in Chile. The clay character looks like an old-world doll, crudely crafted but instantly recognizable. 

Mary’s reflections, inspired by Latin and German folklore, fancifully manifest in swirling animation that shifts from one person or thing to another. Moments in La Casa Lobo are filled with proverbial axioms: sweetness and sorrow, a safe haven and a dungeon. The claywork is unsettling one second and reassuring the next.