Bagdad Cafe Percy Adlon

Bagdad Cafe Percy Adlon
5
Bagdad Cafe is one of those films that just won't go away. Released in 1987, it flew under the radar initially, but gradually attracted a diehard following that persists 26 years later. Quite simply, it's about Jasmin (Marianne Sägebrecht), a lonely, plump German woman who abandons her husband in the Mojave Desert, only to find refuge amongst a group of oddballs at a motel/diner. Aging bohemian painter Rudi (played by the great Jack Palance) falls for fish-out-of-water Jasmin, while fiery diner owner Brenda (CCH Pounder) struggles to raise her son alone and run a joint that threatens to collapse any minute. The two women make unlikely allies as they seek something better in their lives. Their personal yearnings are the gravitational pull that draws viewers in. You can hear it too in the movie's famous theme song, "Calling You," and see it in the swirling emptiness that surrounds Brenda's cafe. Pounder raises hell in a powerful performance that never goes over the top, while the ensemble shines as a whole. The movie's laughs are gentle, but frequent; you feel like these characters are your friends. Sadly, there are no bonus features on this DVD. The director's cut runs 15 minutes longer, but is found on the European release, not here. While I'm glad that Shout Factory is keeping this title alive in the North American DVD market, I wish they gave this deserving movie more of the Criterion treatment. (Shout! Factory)