Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Schultze Gets the Blues

SCHULTZE GETS THE BLUES (Michael Schorr, 2003)

A retired German salt miner becomes obsessed with zydeco in the deadpan comedy SCHULTZE GETS THE BLUES. Schultze spends his empty days sitting at the pub with his fellow retirees and playing the accordion. One night he comes across the sounds of the swamp on the radio. The melody infects him like a virus, and soon he’s trading in oompah music for something Cajun.

Like the films of Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismäki, SCHULTZE GETS THE BLUES uses dry humor to extract laughs out of mundane situations. Writer-director Michael Schorr shows music’s transporting power by using it to enliven a film that otherwise beats with a slow pulse. Schultze’s obsession with zydeco leads him on a journey to New Braunfels, Texas and the bayou. His quest down the river is, in a sense, as fanatical as the search for El Dorado in AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD, minus the full-blown lunacy. SCHULTZE GETS THE BLUES also touches upon the appeal of different cultures and how this exploration keeps life interesting. Here’s a round German accordion player who finds new meaning through zydeco, yet the America Schultze sees is in the midst of celebrating German heritage and music. SCHULTZE GETS THE BLUES has an inexpressive surface, but beneath it is a warm, funny story about a life renewed.

Grade: B-

(Review first aired on the April 26, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

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