Ulrich Seidl’s In the Basement begins from an interesting idea: a documentary about all the strange things people do in their basements. Sign me up! In actuality, however, it’s a rather boring film. The subjects– an amateur opera singer who runs a firing range in his basement, a weird old lady who keeps ugly dolls she treats like real babies in her basement, a hunter of exotic animals who hangs their stuffed heads in his basement, a collector of Nazi memorabilia with a shrine in his basement, a masochistic woman who helps battered women by day but likes to be spanked by night in her basement, to name just a few– are drab and more pathetic than compelling. I found only two interludes intriguing: a dom/slave couple (the slave licks everything in the bathroom and on his mistress clean) and a homely gigolo who boasts of his ejaculatory prowess. My impression leaving the theater: “Really?” Overall, a snooze.
(Gene Siskel Film Center) D