SCHULTZE GETS THE BLUESPG
Writer-director Michael Schorr makes an assuring debut with Schultze Gets the Blues, a charming and gentle look at a recently retired small-town German miner who bides his time with simple pleasures, hanging with his buddies and playing the accordion, until his sudden devotion to zydeco music and circumstances sweep him away to Texas and a journey of discovery.
Schultze's pleasures require an appreciation of minimalism in both style and content, but filmgoers so inclined will be rewarded. For early scenes of Schultze's small-town life, Schorr employs a static camera that captures what it needs to within the life of the frame. The device may make sense, even if it doesn't make for particularly exciting filmmaking. But once the rhythm of the hero's life grows more animated, so does the camera.
Schorr's story is as simple as his style is minimal, but oozing with charm. Schultze (Horst Krause) is a barrel-chested, gentle bachelor, who spends his retirement fishing, drinking and playing chess with friends Jurgen (Harald Warmbraunn) and Manfred (Karl-Fred Muller). Some spice to this otherwise bland life is supplied by the hot-blooded and elderly Frau Lorant (Rosemarie Deibel), who keeps enticing Schultze for a night of casino gambling. But she passes away before there's any roll of the dice. Schultze is also livened by his skill with the accordion, but his polka repertoire soon gives way to his embrace of the spicy Cajun zydeco rhythms he discovers.
Unfortunately, Schultze's new zydeco sound does not please the conservative members of the town's music club, although the jambalaya he cooks up is a hit.
Out of the blue (and into the blues!), the town rewards Schultze with a trip to Texas, where they expect their prized musician to compete in a music contest. But the fish out of water, and without fluency in English, finds himself a loner and not much of a star in the Lone Star State.
Schultze takes off in a junky motor boat on a journey through the backwaters and bayous of Texas and Louisiana, where he encounters plenty of local color, colorful and kind folk and some great music. And his destiny.
Schorr's film, like Schultze's jambalaya, is a delightful hodgepodge of bland and spicy fixin's and genuine pleasures and surprises that will definitely satisfy the cinematic palates of discriminating audiences.