Refreshing Candor: Our Review of ‘Rams’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - December 07, 2018
Refreshing Candor: Our Review of ‘Rams’

This is not the Scandinavian drama that came out three years ago. Gary Hustwit’s Rams is about Deiter Rams. He has been designing radios and furniture for the past half century. Let me try to sell this documentary again, as someone who likes design but understand that there are normal people who don’t. This is about a German who grew up during the Third Reich and since that version of the country is no more, he has to scrap his way to get a job as a designer. He’s mostly known for his work in Braun, which was then a start-up that made household appliances.

Hustwit asks Rams about people calling his Mr. Braun instead of his real name and he responds that he saw it as a compliment that people associated him with the company’s image. Hustwit emulates that humble spirit. This feels like an intimate conversation or storytelling sessions between man and camera. The rest of the film shows his house and the other spaces that he helped shape, Hustwit capturing these spaces’ cleanliness. He presents a pleasant doc that corresponds with the designer’s mission statement. He also takes a look at Rams at the latter’s peaking, collaborating with other designers working with or under him.

This is a small story of a man who affected the world in his own little way. In an early scene, one of the talking heads referred to Rams as the man who influenced Apple’s aesthetic. That said, I slightly miss the sweeping romanticism in Hustwit’s earlier work Urbanized. Others in the audience might have ambivalent feelings about him walking city streets, sticking out in comparison to young people holding their phones. Scenes like this frame him, inadvertently, as someone with cantankerous tendencies. This borders on stereotypical perceptions of older white men like Rams.

I say ambivalent because sometimes cantankerous old white men are enjoyable to watch. One scene shows Rams going through an exhibit of modern design, specifically furniture, which he designed for Vitsoe. That exhibit includes his work with other designers and it’s fun to watch him throw shade at his competitors. One chair, he points out, will make the person sitting on it get an interesting looking sunburn. He has, as another talking head says, a candor that younger generations shy away from. But that quality complements the pleasant world that he tried to build, one object at a time.

  • Release Date: 12/7/2018
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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