The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is the Pick of the Week

Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta's 1975 disturbingly modern political thriller tops a new week of releases.
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In today's extremely terrifying times, where Donald Trump continues his reign of terror, you have to look back at the paranoid thrillers in the past, especially in the 1960s and 70s, to see how eerily relevant their stories have remained. There was The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days In May, Z, The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, among others. However, I think that 1975's quietly brutal The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, directed by Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta, takes it even further with its stinging commentary on absued power, individual morals, and media manipulation.

The film stars Angela Winkler as Katharina, a young woman who meets a man (Jurgen Prochnow) at some sort of party. Afterwards, they go to her apartment and make love. The next morning, he leaves and suddenly Katharina is arrested. She is interrograted by a highly amibitious special agent (Mario Adorf), who believes that both of them are terrorists. It is only a matter of time before she reveals that she is. Meanwhile, a newspaper reporter (Deiter Laser) is doing his own investigation where he finds out her past and is determined to expose it in order to show that he can be a good journalist. Because of all the events that have occured, Katharina comes to discover that her life will never be the same again.

Unlike other films in the political thriller genre, the film isn't showy or explicit; its rather a slow burn that openly showcases the damaging effects of hunting down and punishing supposed terrorists, and that is one of the many reasons why it continues to be just as devastating and unforgettable as the day it was released.

The supplements of Criterion's Blu-ray upgrade aren't new, but they're still very informative and illuminating. They include a trailer; an archival interview with both Schlondorff and von Trotta as they talk about the political climate and themes that define the film; segments from Ivo Barnabo's 1977 documentary Henirch Boll about the author who wrote the novel the film was based on; and an archival interview with cinematographer Jost Vacano, who talks about the visual style of the film. There is also a brand new essay by critic Amy Taubin that wasn't included with the original DVD. If you're looking for a film that accurately defines the time we live in right now, or just need something to cure your boredom during quarantine, then this is another must have in any film lover's collection.

Other releases:

The Swimmer: Grindhouse Releasing's new limited edition Blu-ray/DVD/CD combo of Frank Perry's 1968 existential cult masterpiece starring the great Burt Lancaster as a handsome advertising executive who heads home by swimming from pool to pool through his neighborhood. Along the way, his life story is reflected via his awkward and complicated interactions with his wealthy neighbors. Read Luigi Bastardo's review of the 2014 release.

Swallow: Haley Bennett stars a newly pregnant housewife who finds herself suddenly attracted to consuming dangerous objects. As her husband and in-laws continue to suffocate her life, she must confront the dark reason behind her obsession. Read Matt St. Clair's movie review.

Inception (4K): Christopher Nolan's 2010 blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCapirio as a professional thief who goes after the thoughts, dreams, and secrets buried in the minds of other people. Because of this, he becomes a solitary fugitive stripped of his entire life. When he is offered the chance for redemption, he and his new team of specialists find themselves pitted against a dangeous enemy seems to know their every move.

The Town (4K): Ben Affleck co-wrote, directed, and stars in the acclaimed 2010 thriller about a career thief (Affleck) who tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his previous heists, while trying to stay one step ahead of the FBI agent hellbent on capturing him and his crew. Read reviews of The Town.

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