If you know the work of the Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl, the mere title “In The Basement” should prompt inappropriate giggles. His visits with countrymen who love their basements and the things they keep down there will also prompt inappropriate barks of horrified laughter. As in the “Faith” trilogy, his recent fact-fiction blend, Seidl marries the baleful glare of the satirist with the unnerving precise gaze of the documentarian. Can his fellow Austrians be as strange, as blunt, as unfathomably cruel as lore and legend hold? (As well as the notorious Josef Fritzl case.) Ja, in almost every successive gesture, statement, offhanded remark, cheap male joke, sexual predilection and, especially, in those memorabilia collections. 81m. (Ray Pride)
“In The Basement” opens Friday, November 20 at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.