Close-Up is a feature that spotlights films now playing on MUBI. Julian Radlmaier's Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog (2017), which is receiving an exclusive global online premiere on MUBI, is showing from January 12 - February 11, 2018 as a Special Discovery.
Personnel is being hired for the Theater in Oklahoma! The great Theater of Oklahoma is calling you!
—Amerika, Franz Kafka
“But how can we know we’re in communism?”
—Camille, Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois DogSpecters haunt: class society, the ghost of Mayakovsky, the Soviet avant-garde. Julian Radlmaier’s filmography has thus far demonstrated a fixation with the terminology, the iconography—and the names, and the reference points—of a Marxist culture at once sacred, dogmatic, malleable, popular, misquoted, bastardized, mocked. The German filmmaker foregrounds his referential framework (two medium-length efforts preceded this one: 2012’s A Specter Is Haunting Europe and 2014’s A Proletarian Winter’s Tale) as if to simultaneously goad and warn his audience. But these are less lectures than Brechtian grapples. In them, characters discover the praxis of getting by: togetherness, fairness, the realities of a living wage.In Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog, Radlmaier’s feature-length debut, the first gag is a foul-mouthed dismissal of Fra Angelo’s 1420s painting, Apparition of St. Francis at Arles, hanging inside the visually pristine, preciously quiet space of Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie, on the grounds that its subject—St. Francis of Assisi—was a “fucking communist”. During a lunchbreak, museum employee Hong (Kyung-Taek Lie) explains to younger colleague Sancho (Beniamin Forthi) that St. Francis lived among the poor, spoke...