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Review: ‘Bagdad Café’ popular the world over

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By Kelly Dolejsi

Moviegoers in France, Germany and even Seattle love “Bagdad Cafe” (1987, Rated PG). This incredible and incredibly strange film has won awards across the globe for its casting, acting, screenplay and was chosen Best Foreign Film several times over. What will Los Alamos think? That’s always an interesting question to ask.
“Bagdad Cafe,” showing Thursday at Mesa Public Library, begins with a German couple on a desolate road. They are well-dressed — over-dressed for their surrounding. They appear to be married and not happy about it. The road, the car, the rusty lean-to that serves as a urinal, everything is tilted, disoriented, uncomfortable to watch. The couple’s arguments are in German, so English-speaking viewers are even further ungrounded and upended.
And yet, sense prevails. Quite logically, the woman opens the car door, grabs her bag and walks. And once she leaves the car, the movie changes. The asphalt lies horizontal and beneath the sky. Her feet, even in her ridiculous pumps, are firmly planted.
The unusual prudence of this opening sequence prevails throughout “Bagdad Cafe,” as the German woman, Jasmin Münchgstettner (Marianne Sägebrecht), creates a new life for herself on the side of the road.


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