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Solo Sunny - arthouse and international DVD / drama DVD review
SOLO SUNNY Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Renate Krößner, Alexander Lang, Dieter Montag, Heide Kipp, Klaus Brasch, Fred Düren
Directors: Konrad Wolf and Wolfgang Kohlhaase   Distributor: First Run Features
DVD release: 24 June 2008   Runtime: 102 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Audio tracks (German), Subtitles (English), "Looking for Konrad Wolf and Solo Sunny," Biographies, Filmographies

It's the late 1970s in the East Berlin underground, and Sunny (Renate Krößner) is a singer in a rock 'n' roll band called The Tornadoes. Solo Sunny, thanks to an archive at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, is a lost bit of fictional music history recovered. Late in the film, Sunny announces that she sleeps with whom she wants. In that, she pretty much summarizes Solo Sunny's simple plot.

And simple is good, because Sunny is complex. Renate Krößner does a great job with the feisty feminist who uses all her powers to get what she wants. But it's what she doesn't want that stirs the pot and gives the film what impetus it has. She doesn't want the regular band member who regularly hits on her but does want the fill-in sax player, Ralph (Alexander Lang). Ralph, however, is a stony, philandering philosopher. He pisses Sunny off, but not before breaking her heart by penning for her the lyrics of her breakout song.

It's the music that keeps Solo Sunny at the top of the feminist self-realization genre (a little known genre, I admit, it offers the alternative to the masculinist coming-of-age story and includes John Sayles' films Passion Fish and Lianna, as well as Fried Green Tomatoes, The Color Purple, and many others). Günther Fischer's score maps a broad emotional terrain, from the drunkenly silly (sloppy polka) to the liberating groove (psychedelic blues). While the East German regime is not in evidence, the surreal (and occasionally comedic) pastiche of fashions and musical styles puts a spookiness in the subliminal mix that sometimes erupts in, for instance, the furtive shock displayed by Sunny's band mates when she does something outrageous. Pickled in underground alcohol, smoky with sexuality, Solo Sunny is a rare depiction of rock 'n' roll life in an alternative universe.

The DVD has an additional short film (Looking for Konrad Wolf and Solo Sunny), biographies and filmographies.
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reviewed by Brian Charles Clark
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