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Vera's Review 'Lou Reed's Berlin'

After the Labour disaster, England deserved a Red Victory. No matter if it didn’t happen on the shore of Albion – it happened in Russia, no less. Well done Manchester, I’m sure it was a great game. Sorry but I wasn’t there with my nose glued to a TV screen. Instead of rejoicing in red, I was slumped in the deep black of Lou Reed’s Berlin.
The New York minstrel had published the concept-album Berlin in 1973 after the success of 'Walk On The Wild Side', and it was a commercial failure. In 2006 he and producer Bob Ezrin, who took over the project again and performed it live for five nights at St. Ann’s Warehouse, NY. Over those five nights director-come-artist Julian Schnabel captured the performance, which also features short visionary films shot by the director’s daughter Lola and projected on the background of the venue. The main film footage is shot in a grainy stock that embraces Reed and his band, plus a string quartet, a brass ensemble, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and guest vocalist Antony of Antony and the Johnsons. Needless to say, all performers are exceptional and Reed’s desperate novellas of abysmal grief have not lost an ounce of their power. They’re Taking Her Children Away and the bleak Rock Minuet give goosebumps that stay with you long after the credits roll. Antony’s version of Candy Says is so tender and moving that even stone-faced Lou Reed melts into a grateful smile.
Lola Schnabel's short films of rivers, glaciers and Emmanuelle Seigner’s beautiful face engulf the musicians in a surreal, bluish haze. Interestingly enough, in an interview published in the Guardian Schnabel the Father had said “I'm a big Caravaggio fan and I like when the edge of the picture goes past the edge of the frame… I think the reason I like to film water moving or ice is that it's so physical”, which is exactly what happens here. But as a result, his visual style reminds of embers hiding the burning fire of visionarity - exactly like Lou Reed's spoken word, at times vitriolic, at times poignant. A wonderful experience.