Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#176 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Nov 20, 2021 4:40 pm

Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?
senseabove wrote:
Fri Oct 08, 2021 2:22 pm
It's like Fassbinder's The Office (which is a show I've always found to be nearly as excruciating as this), and it's a more effective use of his penchant for form-as-oppression: who hasn't been trapped in apparently bottomless, boring small talk, and who could find it anything other than maddening to realize that, except for those times when someone is yelling at you, your life has become nothing, absolutely nothing but bottomless, boring small talk: with your wife, with your mother, with your co-workers, with your neighbors. Except Herr R.'s wife, and mother, and co-workers, and neighbors all seemingly don't. When Herr R. does finally "run amok," it's all too understandable to us why. This isn't great Fassbinder, and ultimately it feels as much like a proof-of-concept formal exercise as it does a successful feature, but for me, at least, it was perversely more engaging than the forced alienation of the earlier features.
zedz wrote:
Sat Oct 09, 2021 2:21 am
I find the film fascinating, because as senseabove noted, it's his core obsessions realised in a new way. It is indeed a proof-of-concept, but it's a proof-of-concept for a much, much better film:
SpoilerShow
Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which employs the formal rigour this kind of experiment cries out for.
I find the film quite amusing on a conceptual level, and awkward-funny in several individual sequences (e.g. the one with the sniggering salesgirls in the record store, having to help Kurt Raab find the record he wants "with the chorus that keeps coming back"). Furthermore, I feel that the payoff has genuine power that goes beyond the conceptual. The climactic scene has a real tension on the soundtrack that's largely lost with a reliance on subtitles (which only translate one of the two conflicting sound streams in the small room), and there's the black joke that the answer to the titular question ends up being: Irm Hermann won't stop wittering on about her skiing holiday.
Great thoughts, though I found this far more enjoyable (yes, "enjoyable!"- Not sure what that says about me...) because of its formal choices rather than long-game concept. I like the Akerman film well enough, but must respectfully disagree with zedz in that by presenting us with insular fragments of unbridled social banality, we have a different sense of the relentless suffocation and fatalistic monotony of our protagonist's existence. Each scene, with its ironically elastic camera, emancipated from austere formalism (that would contribute to a more grounded and imprisoning tone a la the Akerman, which works in its own right) breathes life into the (in)action occurring before us- but this voluminous style is wryly incongruous with the drab content permeating these scenes. To oversimplify the difference: In Akerman's film, we are introduced into a routine and trapped there to build subtle tension adjacently-aligned with the aloof protagonist, while in Fassbinder's film, we are strung along from scene to scene with faux-escapisms toward anticipation, thinking "Maybe this time it'll be different" as we're granted reprieve from one confinement only to be birthed into another. At least Akerman's Sisyphean cycle is consistent and predictable for the majority of its runtime, whilst Fassbinder utilizes the medium's fluid possibilities to tease us with false hope of subversion, reinforcing impotence through thrilling, involving technique.

I can't explain any better why I found this film so stimulating- but perhaps it's as simple as the trick worked on me; a masochistic ride of getting sucked into a new gateway of life only to witness and experience the torture of how lifeless each moment is in practice. I relished the brevity, and was grateful for each opportunity to evade the former scene propelled into a new one, to be a participant in yet another luring dead-end. The joke though, is that eventually something new does happen, satisfying the delusional application of repetition in engagement while expecting different results- even if this alteration from the path needs to come in a form of immoral aggression. The punchline seems to be that, after all we've been engrossed into and despirited by, the breaking of the cycle is both cathartic and unnerving, which amusingly fits right in with the polarized exhaustion of formal triggers for optimistic expectation and thwarted result in cynical execution that's populated the rhythm of the film. I far preferred the way Fassbinder presented the fluctuating pattern of hopes/disappointments with kinetic energy of highs and lows throughout his fractured structure, compared to Akerman's exercise of deceptively-stable routine to parse out details and find worthy meditations within these confines. Fassbinder's movie finds no momentary solace in mindfulness techniques- only a fool's paradise of faulty aspirations for the mold to break, and when it finally does it's anything but heavenly for anyone involved!
SpoilerShow
The decision for Herr R. to turn off the music of Ben E. King's uplifting "Stand By Me" midway through his serial murdering escapade demonstrates a surrender of the hope he's entered each new scattered scene with throughout the film. It's a numbed response that devalues that resilience, muting the tool of deceitful optimism Fassbinder has cheekily (but also sincerely, as Fassbinder knows all too well what it's like to engage in toxic relationships and drug habits with delusional expectations despite evidence from personal history of their fatalistic consequences) implemented in mise en scene, to instead hone in on the determinist path of suffering with commitment to finality. Herr R. essentially takes the film away from Fassbinder (an allegory for taking control of his own life in the only way he can, by ending it)- shutting off his tricks, killing off his characters, and stopping the endless cycle of pain.

There is one more subsequent joke in how, even after Herr R. commits to this objective, the film carries on without him! There is yet another banal routine of police officers musing about, setting up another narrative of promise: Could these actions have reversed the order of Fassbinder's strategy- beginning with the boring and leading to excitement? Are we being led to a violent showdown, or a continuation of the progressive evasion of the mundane with new characters now!? Nope, they just find Herr R. dead, deflating our ambitions once again, while simultaneously alerting us to the pervasive tedium existing ubiquitously outside of Herr R.'s story. It's a bit like the ending of Kusama's The Invitation, only via methodology of elisions rather than introducing visual stimuli, to reach the same effect of sobriety to the horrors of our narrative occurring outside of what we thought was a unique experience, swallowing hope of escapism by surrounding us from every angle with that reminder of powerlessness.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#177 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:32 pm

zedz wrote:
Sun Oct 17, 2021 5:41 pm
Re: Satan's Brew. My theory is that Fassbinder was going through a period of especially intense self-loathing at the time (what is Kurt Raab's character if not a really nasty self-caricature?) and decided to turn it into 'art'. It's what a compulsive workaholic would do.
I suppose I'll be the sole vocal defender of Satan's Brew, but not for its comedy. I like it now for the same reason I liked it on my first watch ten years back: It's not funny, but it's a filterless regurgitation of all the hedonistic thoughts Fassbinder had running through his amphetamine-induced mind, and visual exhibitions of his character defects (for even when Kranz is restraining his afflictions, like in his coffeehouse first meeting with Margit Carstensen, he cannot help but self-criticize her dirty arms as he holds back all other impulses for maltreatment- something that feels like an incredibly devastating disclosure from Fassbinder), treated with the self-conscious absurdity they deserve. That might be a form of self-loathing, but I think it's a therapeutically constructive one- ironically by demonstrating how uncleansing the process is in actuality! I don't believe this film is pitched to garner laughs from its audience- rather, we're supposed to internalize the zany pace and wild and shocking content with a distaste (not a taste, nor cinematic permit to opportunistically align with our own perverse drives) for the pathetic literalization of our desires. The juxtaposing ideas clashing under a schizophrenic tone is a more unhinged and provocative strategy similar to that of Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?- Fassbinder's 'other' film where he delivers content at odds with superficially-inspired mood, though here it's not via formalism in flowing camerawork or scattered scenes displacing us from banality, conversely presented as a straightforward, relentless ride of overstimulation by unwanted signifiers.

The silliness is intentional, but so is our detachment from the material to mock the behavior whilst recognizing the futility of actualizing our darkest thirsts in practice. There's nowhere safe for them to go- they're either translated into Low Art without an honest chance of release via hilarity, or kept within to stew alone. Fassbinder's message, if there even is one, is intentionally invisible- implicitly declaring that maybe they should stay inside us- tragic as that may be to hold onto an uncontrollable part of our id with no support to exorcise them from us; but here he is, running an experiment- or perhaps too weak and tormented to resist the attempt to expel them- and admittedly failing to achieve catharsis through this avenue (I take the choice not to make another 'comedy' along these lines as proof that his self-help project didn't work). It's been cast out into the world as a warning, a confession, and a declaration of the fatal prisons of 'self' unable to be alleviated through sharing them.

I don't love the film, but I do think it may be misunderstood, and it has a chance of making the bottom of my list for its originality at fostering a new path of thematically-familiar divulgences from the auteur. The concept certainly becomes tiresome after the first act, and could've been far more successful as a short, though there is some satisfaction found in Margit Carstensen's response to Kranz' weakness, spitting on him for not living up to the idea of a dominant partner to her submissive role, thus switching seamlessly to that function herself. The passive illustration paints both parties as pitiful rather than honoring the drives behind filling these roles in dynamics, essentially crafting a less polished version of the final moment in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, intentionally executed without that film's potency.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#178 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Nov 21, 2021 8:13 pm

Berlin Alexanderplatz. Hard to write summarizing thoughts about such a monster series. Narratively, it’s eminently more easily readable than the director’s previous two films, but there’s still a continual flow of supplemental, less immediately intelligible text punctuating the narrative throughout, more suggestive than literal, whether in the titles, or in the other forms of poetry that fill the film, like the frequent bits of somewhat abstract philosophical self-ramblings that Franz get into, or the bits of songs and hymns he sings to himself. And that’s before getting to the trip that is the dream epilogue (remarkable amongst other things for the way it truly mimics dreams with the constant repetitions, substitutions and discontinuities) that’s packed with so much information though the images, symbolism, music and editing, as to be overwhelming.

Not all of that was comprehensible to me, especially at the end, which is just as well because it’s the kind of film where part of its appeal for me lies in the fact that something remains mysterious and unarticulated throughout, despite the familiarity by now with Fassbinder’s themes. A lot of that mystery lies in the character of Franz himself. What is clear soon enough in the series is that Franz is governed by especially strong, childlike motives and ideals, where a strong desire for complete freedom exists alongside the wish to create a world of true friend and love relationships, beyond what the social and political realities around him promote or allow for in their rigid codes, and along with the need to acquire a new, morally righteous identity. And it also becomes clear that the realization of those ideals is incapacitated by the unbending power and influence of those realities and the interpersonal betrayals that result from them. At the same time, the film is written and executed as such so that as Franz goes through that constant, repeating rollercoaster cycle (which twbb minutely and superbly detailed and analyzed) of will to dream and spiritually murderous disappointments (where the only possible release is, once again, death), most of the time we’re finding ourselves following shifts in Franz’s attitude that take a while before they become more understandable, and that often surprise us. He takes these strange turns, like when he gets into that immoral girlfriend-exchanging business with Reinhold, where the motivation isn’t immediately clear, and where his actions can seem, at least initially, at odds with our previous understanding of where his intentions resided. As TW rendered, there’s a mixture here of what the environment creates, but there’s also what Franz carries inside that’s already confused, warring and destructive.

My biggest takeaway from the film is just a ton of admiration for the level of artistry, commitment and soul in every minute of this series. This is where Fassbinder’s level of productivity is most impressive, in being able to invest so much quality and poetry into such a long work, that he shot in impressively few hours relative to what a regular feature film would take. There’s such continual care in the photography and the staging of shots, and even if Ballhaus is gone there’s a continuous display of virtuoso camera choreography going on. The score is equally impressive, the music a strong component of the mood, and frequently with different additions in the different episodes. Episode 5, for instance, where Franz is introduced to Pums and Reinhold, gets a lot of its power by this unrelenting echoed piano-led music, storming and hypnotic that runs through a long, uninterrupted part of it.

A few more disconnected notes:
- There’s a lot of eroticism in the film, especially early on, and Franz’ unexplained vampiric love bites suggest the violence and despair that are wrapped up in his need for love and kindness, and along with other features in the series creates an echo with Weimar-era Expressionistic cinema.
- Unlike most of the Fassbinder films, there’s very little said to explain the past, developmental sources of Franz’ tormented soul. His release from prison is a sort of “birthing” into the world (“the punishment begins”) and we’re left to see how this world of humans eats up the innocents. However, there is also frequent referencing to social conditions in 1928 Berlin/Germany – i.e. the number of unemployed. The overall feeling of what causes is both of social/economic conditions and something more vague, fatalistic, almost mythic in power.
- The mythological comes to the fore strongly at various points. There are fairy tale aspects to the film, especially at the point when the impossibly innocent, not-of-this-world character of Mieze comes in. That brutal scene of her with the “serpent” Reinhold in the forest at the end, with all the mist - which quite powerfully, and despairingly, is replayed as the last scene over the final credits – has something of a Grimms fairy tale about it: the little pink riding hood.
- Speaking of Mieze, her prolonged wailing in Episode 11 is such an agonizing primal scream, the feeling of pure and complete abandonment in the need for love, it’s like the heart of what’s traumatized in all of Fassbinder’s characters. (It’s powerfully reinserted as an audio track during one of the dream sequences at the end where her and Franz are in the slaughterhouse like cattle – a metaphor that’s brought up several times in the series, and evokes that disturbing scene in In a Year of 13 Moons. I read somebody online saying part of the most disturbing stuff here is Fassbinder paying homage to Pasolini in Salo.)
- All those repeating tracks at the end (Kraftwerk, Janis, Elvis, Velvets – you could add Cohen although not this track specifically) featured in previous, often early Fassbinder films, as if he’s making a more explicit link between what feels like an oeuvre-climaxing statement with the rest of his filmography.
- The sound collage during the last, very end credits dizzyingly layers together German, socialist, Soviet and Nazi anthems, bringing back up those warring binaries we were presented with in the second episode and not only announcing the future but also tying the trauma of the biographical personal journey to that of the political, collective level. (I just started the Thomsen documentary on the Second Sight blu ray set and when it comes to describing the director’s childhood, it’s interesting to note how powerfully that traumatic collective, historical context was responsible for the director’s own developmental trauma. His mother, who was 10 when Hitler seized power and was completely wrapped up in the indoctrination, is quoted as saying that when 1945 came about and the Nazi horrors were revealed, it led to not just a completely bewildering disillusionment as to what the regime was about, but to a more generalized loss of faith as to the purpose and potential evil of all forms of education. That led her directly to not making any effort to educate her child. Then the following year the dire economic consequences of the war led to her extended family all moving in and creating a context where, as the director later said himself, he didn’t know who to attach to as parental figures. When they all left in 1951 or so, along with his father, that must have led to further destabilization and loss.)

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#179 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Nov 21, 2021 8:57 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Nov 21, 2021 8:13 pm
A few more disconnected notes:
- Speaking of Mieze, her prolonged wailing in Episode 11 is such an agonizing primal scream, the feeling of pure and complete abandonment in the need for love, it’s like the heart of what’s traumatized in all of Fassbinder’s characters. (It’s powerfully reinserted as an audio track during one of the dream sequences at the end where her and Franz are in the slaughterhouse like cattle – a metaphor that’s brought up several times in the series, and evokes that disturbing scene in In a Year of 13 Moons. I read somebody online saying part of the most disturbing stuff here is Fassbinder paying homage to Pasolini in Salo.)
- All those repeating tracks at the end (Kraftwerk, Janis, Elvis, Velvets – you could add Cohen although not this track specifically) featured in previous, often early Fassbinder films, as if he’s making a more explicit link between what feels like an oeuvre-climaxing statement with the rest of his filmography.
- The sound collage during the last, very end credits dizzyingly layers together German, socialist, Soviet and Nazi anthems, bringing back up those warring binaries we were presented with in the second episode and not only announcing the future but also tying the trauma of the biographical personal journey to that of the political, collective level. (I just started the Thomsen documentary on the Second Sight blu ray set and when it comes to describing the director’s childhood, it’s interesting to note how powerfully that traumatic collective, historical context was responsible for the director’s own developmental trauma. His mother, who was 10 when Hitler seized power and was completely wrapped up in the indoctrination, is quoted as saying that when 1945 came about and the Nazi horrors were revealed, it led to not just a completely bewildering disillusionment as to what the regime was about, but to a more generalized loss of faith as to the purpose and potential evil of all forms of education. That led her directly to not making any effort to educate her child. Then the following year the dire economic consequences of the war led to her extended family all moving in and creating a context where, as the director later said himself, he didn’t know who to attach to as parental figures. When they all left in 1951 or so, along with his father, that must have led to further destabilization and loss.)
Phenomenal post, RV, and I'm singling out your last three "disconnected" notes because they all seem to actually connect quite strongly to Fassbinder's reflection on his oeuvre, and own personal life, intertwined in this cumulative magnum opus (a case could be made for the others as well: I wonder if, by now, Fassbinder had little interest in explaining his 'past' when he's so engulfed in and exhausted by the conditions- internally mental and externally tangible- of the present). That information from the Thomsen doc sounds fascinating and incredibly informative to Fassbinder's identity, for how external sociopolitical conditions affected his own psychological attachment! Too bad it appears not to be on the Criterion edition... I'd love to check it out

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#180 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Nov 21, 2021 9:20 pm

Thanks T. I see someone has posted the doc (Fassbinder: Love without Demands) on youtube. The English subtitles are burned in. The part about his childhood and mother starts at 13 minutes.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#181 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Nov 21, 2021 9:33 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Nov 21, 2021 9:20 pm
I see someone has posted the doc (Fassbinder: Love without Demands) on youtube. The English subtitles are burned in. The part about his childhood and mother starts at 13 minutes.
Danke!

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#182 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Nov 21, 2021 9:52 pm

That's a good review of Run Amok by the way - helps put words to the enjoyment I get out of it.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#183 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Nov 21, 2021 10:07 pm

Thanks, I was surprised how much I liked it this time around (it didn't leave a huge mark when I saw it in my youth) but it's currently sitting in my top ten, and with zero(!) remaining unseen Fassbinders left -excluding his first lost short- I don't foresee it getting bumped from there (though I need to revisit two I have little memory of to see where they place, in addition to ~seven I remember well and have seen recently to feel more secure in my final rankings)

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#184 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Nov 21, 2021 10:44 pm

Just finished the Loving without Demands doc - definitely recommended, nice use of some scenes to make some points, ever so slightly à la Tag Gallagher at times, along with all the interview footage.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#185 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Nov 21, 2021 11:36 pm

I was underwhelmed by my revisits of both Beware of a Holy Whore and In a Year of 13 Moons, though I can see why people like both. The former always feels like Fassbinder's Day for Night (made first, of course) but I can comprehend that there are depths to the structure that I have little investment in parsing out (and I have a feeling like the Adrian Martin commentary RV points to would make me appreciate the film much more). I'll take the L on this one, as it's definitely a self-imposed blockade to accessing any of the content with amusement. I like the bizarre idiosyncrasies like the slap game, but ultimately I prefer the other multicharacter madcap-lite effort, The Third Generation, which I can't write about because RV already created a perfect post that I have absolutely zilch to add to (nor could I have mustered up nearly a fraction of valuable analysis if I even tried!)

In a Year of 13 Moons is a striking film, visually satisfying -whether by creatively layering image and ideas (the already-stated overlap of offscreen storytelling over the footage of butchered animals is riveting) or simply shooting action in a dreamy light, under the tone of a nightmare. Unfortunately the ambitions don't add up for me. If Fassbinder went full-throttle into Juliet of the Spirits-land, or if he stripped back the gloss to portray a raw exhibition of a trans woman's decline into dysphoric abyss, I'd be on board. However, I couldn't quite get a grip on what I was watching, and it was all the more frustrating because each half of these two different kinds of films had thrilling potential (I'm being careful not to frame these dissonant strategies as "half measures" because Fassbinder goes head-first into each interchangeably with gusto- they just don't gel). I'm often one to find an avenue to defend uneven films on some basis of sideways-angled intentional flaws meriting success if viewed *just right*, but I was unable to locate that path of admiration here. Oh well, maybe next time. It's well worth watching for all that does work, and it's certainly a 'memorable' film, even if I came away diagnosing it as a failed experiment.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#186 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:28 am

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sat Sep 18, 2021 10:58 pm
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Fassbinder’s take on All That Heaven Allows is very simply shot, and is full of understated tenderness. Aside from Eight Hours, it’s rare to have two leads not so f**ked up in their motivations, although in the end they can’t escape being infected by the effects of the social sickness surrounding them.
For years I've felt this was an overrated film in Fassbinder's canon, but while I always respected his choice to hone in on the subtler microaggressions omnipresent in white-dominant social contexts, this watch accentuated just how meticulously pronounced every single directorial choice is to drum up an authentic tone of brewing agitation. During the enthralling restaurant scene, for example, Fassbinder edits the 'action' with just a touch of sharpness, as the camera frames the central couple from a low, claustrophobic angle, giving a sinking feeling, while the standing waiter gets an elevated, loose and direct vantage point, to heighten the power differential charging discomfort. Simultaneously he directs the performances perfectly in a mesh of understated emotion and concealed hostility to reach a simmering tension without any overt cross-racial antagonism or clear persecution. Whatever is happening exists in the elisions, and because Emmi is by far the most animated principal in the scene, we can understand that she's contributing at least as much anxiety projected into the atmosphere of suffocating energy as the waiter is causing through his cold, sterile responses.

Of course there are more subversive strategies at play, and reactions portrayed, but the rhythm never lifts too far off the ground of a humanistic tragedy. Emmi wants to forfeit her social influence and inherent racist conditioning, but can't rise above it independently, nor recognize her actions at times (i.e. in the scene of exoticization regarding Ali's muscles to her friends); while Ali is all too familiar with these microaggressions but struggles to communicate with Emmi through his own learned resistance to bridging intimacy with visibly disconcerted whites. The woman who accepts him and who he turns to for consolation is the bartender, for she doesn't judge or repel him with body language and perturbed demeanor. This is a film about the intricate and inescapable traps of racism and classism propagated by culture, yes, but it's also about how inherently lonely we are when we cannot access or be accessed on a level playing field- a near-universal dissonance found in romantic courting when both parties value and want to communicate but simply cannot in a manner that honors the other's needs or schematic competency. The shots of Ali sitting alone, flustered, in the bartender's apartment- an ironically pretty, colorful space- are some of the most devastating. He doesn't want to be there, in the place where he's accepted as-is; he'd prefer to be with the woman he loves, who struggles to accept him. But he simply cannot actualize tools to change either her own psychosocial knowledge or approach, nor shed his own internal obstacles to trusting or aiding her growth- abilities he lacks as well.

This is a far more mature and complex film than Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (with the benefit of timing and progressive influences to draw upon in an era supporting more liberal applications of art; I'm not entering a debate that assumes Sirk's film wasn't groundbreaking or equally-adult and bold in a vacuum), because while that film identified a distinct, controllable variable entirely within the control of our leads to change in order to achieve happiness (obviously compromised by the collateral damage of losing significant familial and social relationships, but still entirely empowering based on easily attainable self-actualized will), Fassbinder's film posits that agency itself is anchored by the nebulous chains of insularly-defined communication skills. It's a fatalistic formula segregating us from one another, sourced from within, spawned and reinforced by irredeemable experience formulating a worldview from our ingrained social contexts. The pain both leads face doesn't come from weighing transparent choices between sacrificing personal self-actualization or family respect to obtain the other, but from not knowing what the choices are at all, or why utilizing the methods of engagement at their disposals aren't working.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#187 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Nov 23, 2021 3:10 am

Fontane Effi Briest, or Many people who are aware of their own capabilities and needs just acquiesce to the prevailing system in their thoughts and deeds, thereby confirming and reinforcing it

I love revisits. They hold the power to transform films I've outright hated, felt apathetic toward, or even liked a lot to skyrocket into all-time status based on my own development of maturation and tastes, and accumulation of elastic contexts by which to approach the work. My younger self wasn't ready to appreciate the depths of this film- even though I had it at no. 4 on my preliminary list from favorable memory, but it's so clearly planted in my no. 1 spot now that the skip over three key favorites is noteworthy. I can't begin to unpack all the intricacies of its layers at the moment, but l do know that this is, for me, undoubtedly Fassbinder's masterpiece.

It's also one of the greatest novelistic cinema experiments, right up there with Vale Abraão, though Fassbinder's film widens the poles between fleeting empathy and fatalistic detachment from the material, while imbuing a fluidity in form that collects these diverse effects under a meridian of tonal harmony. The mood certainly shifts, but even when Effi lifts herself from her magnetized conditions- a shift from societal pressure itself, such as the daily walks to assert the limited agency she possesses to actualize desire- she is sucked back into her circumstances and unable to engage in this practice when her lover is absent. The same could be said of Instetten, who keeps her trapped with classist restraints, and potentially gothic tricks(!), wielding his power until he must resign to the clasps of honor to self-destruct against conscience. Effi may not embody the specific kind of 'enigmatic woman' in MO's film(s), but she does transmit this idea- as a woman who is kept from knowing herself or self-actualizing fully due to inherent barriers in systems. She recounts a poem, after musing about how "associations" aren't only based on personal experience but externalized influence, which appears to be born from wish-fulfillment to escape without a vision of hopeful solution. The poem is about wanting to be covered in icy snow to protect oneself from social threats, the snow being the key uncomfortable, even fatal, element in the equation: salvation won't be pleasant.

Effi's lack of self-knowledge as a handicap, or Instetten's early admission that what he believes (or wants to believe) isn't valuable against the hiveminded consolidation of superficial mundanity, or the ghosts as either an aggressed illusion or nebulous violator divorced from corporeal intent, or the nature of the film-novel's manipulations of the medium, all engage in the smothering of ubiquitous amassed artifice onto the subject. This title card appears several times: "an artifice calculated to inspire fear," which though implicitly nodding to the paranoia of Instetten's ghost-deceit at first, seems to be a more universally thematic phrase describing artifice as a disease permeating all existence. The one calculating this poison isn't Instetten, but God, or the insurmountable social structures cemented in place, or the author's (both Fontane or Fassbinder contributions') construction of a world emulating ours, and incessantly provoking us by offering gorgeous flourishes of tangible grace in material and action, only to be stripped back to the unsettling gravity of 'realism' time and time again.

There are too many examples to count for how Fassbinder straddles character 'development' by giving us an opportunity to walk on a razor's edge, bifurcating resonant -yet enigmatic- image and expression of cognitive-emotional processes. My favorite probably comes at the halfway mark, when we watch Effi walk across a field (one of many such scenes), wondering about her soul from jumbled perspectives of self-concept and external ideas. This dissection of self clearly confounds her from the content we are given to ingest, though it's stated in dry, monotonous narration over a sterile, unemotional stroll. This juxtaposition says so much without spelling anything out- and I believe we're meant to see this alienating effect as reflexive to Effi's experience; for the only place to consider one's psychology is internal and even there it's a mystery. So I respectfully disagree with senseabove, for what's being shown and told in disconnect between image and text leaves the real (non)answers of complex psychology in the elisions. Oh, and as RV pointed out already, Instetten's speech rationalizing his predestined need to engage in the duel is incredible. It's perfect dialog, but beneath the surface it's also professed in a series of committed points that don't gel- making this his own perplexing and delusional version of the previously-stated walk reflecting on the concept of the soul.

Effi gets a few more excellent scenes- including another whirlwind of tangled existential pining where she blames herself, her husband, and even questions God's culpability in a messy cycle- that land her in as close a state as she can get to self-actualization. First, Effi transitions from a mental state of needing definable answers to comfort in not-knowing, as she considers the theory that our bodies return to the stars alongside mystery, only to reside in limbo with the attitude that she doesn't want to know anymore, and that just longing is 'enough'. Then comes the kicker- that's equal parts tragic and empowering:
SpoilerShow
Effi's last remaining act is to lie to her mother, to pass on a message to Instetten to validate his worldview and efforts. Is she hoping to increase his self-esteem, through martyred self-worth removing the chains of pride- because she loves him, or because she wants to commit a net-positive act for her own moral sanctity, or because she's resigned herself to a minimized status via acceptance of the (artificial, but all too real) rules of the game? And if the latter, is that, too, a form of empowerment? To surrender is to relieve herself of pain, and she freely states that these last few days dying have been some of the best of her life, so there's a strong case to be made for a warped internal logic of freedom coming from succumbing to confines.

However, this mirrors an equally tragic outcome- that Effi doesn't believe she's lying, and dies forfeiting her own sense of morality to a higher power that is not spiritual, but oppressive in the consuming cultural norms of her times. Effi's dilution of the last remnants of her individualized will can be liberating but the sacrifice is still philosophically wounding.
Finally, we witness the parents ruminate on serious, deep, and most significantly unanswerable rhetorical questions from an aloof distance, before the father halts all introspection and avenues for emotional growth, with a sharp "That's much too vast a subject." These are the final lines of the film, but it doesn't end there; no, the pause is sustained in a painfully-long shot of them sitting stagnantly in silence- cementing the diagnosis of western individuals operating defense mechanisms of oversimplicity and shallow conversation to cover up these intangible holes, instead of working through the discomfort to fill them. Though, as Fassbinder might posit himself, while there may not be any solutions to these impediments, they demand to be explored.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#188 Post by zedz » Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:44 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 3:10 am
Fontane Effi Briest, or Many people who are aware of their own capabilities and needs just acquiesce to the prevailing system in their thoughts and deeds, thereby confirming and reinforcing it

I love revisits. They hold the power to transform films I've outright hated, felt apathetic toward, or even liked a lot to skyrocket into all-time status based on my own development of maturation and tastes, and accumulation of elastic contexts by which to approach the work. My younger self wasn't ready to appreciate the depths of this film- even though I had it at no. 4 on my preliminary list from favorable memory, but it's so clearly planted in my no. 1 spot now that the skip over three key favorites is noteworthy. I can't begin to unpack all the intricacies of its layers at the moment, but l do know that this is, for me, undoubtedly Fassbinder's masterpiece.
I think I'm in the same boat as you. I knew this would rank really high, but I assumed Berlin Alexanderplatz would take my top spot until I rewatched this.

And I haven't given up on Fassbinder, by the way, I'm just currently working through Eight Hours Are Not a Day at the more leisurely pace in which it was intended to be consumed. (I was surprised to find that it wasn't originally broadcast as a series, but as five TV movies over the course of six months.)

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#189 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:55 pm

Ditto, and while unfortunately I don't expect to make time to revisit it, Eight Hours Don't Make a Day is easily a top-ten Fassbinder for me. I wrote it up at length in the dedicated thread a little over two years ago, but I still think it's his most humorous and hopeful effort, and doesn't lose any points along the way- no sacrifices made for showing genuine, goodnatured people holding onto some optimism

I just rewatched Die Niklashauser Fart and forgot how indebted to Godard it is, tho I appreciate the other influences and thematic interests cited in your writeup, zedz, which definitely helped me appreciate the film more this time around. And now onto an nth indulgence of the BRD trilogy, and then I'm donezo (well, I'll probably tack on Chinese Roulette, despite having watched it less than a year ago, since it's too damn short not to relish in the context of this project)

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#190 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:17 pm

zedz wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:44 pm
(I was surprised to find that it wasn't originally broadcast as a series, but as five TV movies over the course of six months.)
That fits with listening to Tony Rayns on the Berlin Alexanderplatz Second Sight set observing how the later series is really written and executed as a single film, as opposed to this earlier series which were more discrete episodes.

In any event, I think RWF did some of his best work in this format because so far they're both lodging in my top 3.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#191 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:39 am

The Longing of Veronika Voss: I largely agree with zedz that the pleasures of this film come in aesthetic doses of heaven, but there’s something quite rich about how Fassbinder merges the fatalism of addiction with literal death in one of the sourest noirs out there, so close to his own drug-induced demise. Many Fassbinders are blunt confessions or artistic forms of surrender, yet this dressed-up film, deceptively-removed from his thematic canon, earns points for being the most subtle self-reflexive exercise- ironically harnessed within his least subtle effort in terms of plot or style. The last act could have easily condensed itself following the first death, but instead drags out to such an excruciating degree of degradation whilst impressively, and caustically, maintaining a fluidity of entertainment. It’s a delicate balance of sharp assets, executed with precision by a filmmaker whose skills behind the camera were only improving as he himself stood shaking on his last legs.

Lola: A visually-stunning manipulation of an old tale, within a singular setting of the postwar German sociopolitical climate, cast into a poetic fever dream of kaleidoscopic tones informing genre. Is this a romance, a tragedy, a comedy, a political film, a fairy tale fantasy, or all of these and more? Fassbinder blends passionate inebriation with corrosive sobriety to create an atmosphere equal parts grounded to inescapable sociological concerns and elevated into love: the unexpected love between two strangers, love between the spectator and story, and the love of an artist concocting a film. This film is so drunk on love it bleeds emotion and color inside each and every frame. Both Barbara Sukowa and Armin Mueller-Stahl are fantastic as ordinary figures that nonetheless possess infinite eccentric layers (some demonstrated and others to be found in another film, they’re so boundlessly multidimensional that they restlessly fit into the melodramatic confines of narrative); and most importantly, they are good-natured and endearing lovers. There is a magical glow around them when they’re together (light glistening at just the right angle when they share a moment of quiet urgency in the church on their first date), or even sitting alone thinking about the other.

Fassbinder cannot resist bringing in spiritual signifiers without necessitating explanation or sealing them with inevitable death- making this his most grateful and graceful film. He leaves the gifts of a higher power ubiquitously tangible, without being accessible for means of application in solving the real-world problems present in the movie. For that he can still be grateful, and that euphoric acknowledgement of beauty and possibility reframes his typically-bitter definition of humility's function into a poised acceptance, widening peripheries to obtain the happy ending that previous characters in earlier works would blind themselves out of seeing. The Bakunin quote about who the world belongs to highlights the blurry dynamism expressed between polarized concepts in his milieu: political cynicism and optimism, situational realism and dreams, fatalistic isolation and harmonic love, static resignation and the willingness to try in spite of reservations.. Fassbinder is diving head-first into artifice, in part by using the Blue Angel story as a launchpad, but also through the dazzling psychedelic color palette, deliberate melodramatic contrivances tying people together and resolving narrative arcs, and the (at-times hysterical) comedy populating normally ultra-serious conflict and character motives with zany nonchalance.

Regardless of the artifice, Fassbinder isn't admonishing us to disengage from the dreams within, but rather urging us to find the opportunities attainable to us with an attitude of grace and sobriety to divine passions found in everyday life. I also love how Fassbinder simplifies the solutions to complex problems that feel overwhelming in real life and his other films. While some of his earlier characters don't possess the skills or willingness to be vulnerable in communication with their partners (something that can also seem 'impossible' for many of us, depending on circumstance), ultimately leading to their detriment, it only takes involuntarily-authentic emotional expression -as Von Bohm sheds his stoic mask and breaks down crying- for Lola to realize that he loves her. Sometimes, the answers to our problems really are that simple. Not all of them, of course, but the interpersonal struggles in a mystical cocoon of vacuumed love can often be transcended by untangling our own mental and emotional obstacles inhibiting resolution, to hone in on what's honest and instinctually available to us. I'm grateful Fassbinder finally gave his characters that 'out', and I hope that reflected a gift to himself on the other side of the camera as well.

[Oh, and I see nothing wrong with Sukowa’s “drunk act”- having had a fair amount of sober exposure to drunk people for quite a while now, I’ve come to realize that most people don’t act much different than Sukowa’s portrayal- Sure it’s terrible, but it’s apt to the lack of depth and obnoxious patheticism one often has in such a far-gone state!]

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#192 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:13 am

zedz wrote:
Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:42 pm
Chinese Roulette Once the characters reach the mansion (don't look away, or you'll miss the name of the place, which adds a whole new twist to the denouement)
I didn't pick up any mention of the mansion's name early on, but even if it is shown or said, I think Fassbinder deliberately waits to make us aware of the twist at the end when Kast calls the paramedics:
SpoilerShow
The place is called "Traunitz Manor"- implying that the 'help''s ancestors once ruled the estate- so with her being the easy target to shoot in order for the elite to exorcise rage onto a target with minimal consequence, that's some vitriolic irony in erasing any value in history for the insular solipsism of the entitled present. Given Fassbinder's preoccupation with this defensive dissonance between German classes and their history, this feels like the most significant and intentionally-positioned punchline to the film.
I still stand by my writeup from last November, for the most part, so here it is:
therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Nov 30, 2020 12:18 am
Chinese Roulette used to be my hands-down favorite RWF, and while a return didn't bowl me over like the first watch did, it's still sitting near the top of his oeuvre. This is Fassbinder’s most puckish film, where the cruelty is earned through a combination of specifically-deserved mockery and broad-minded sympathy for humanity’s sensitivities. No matter how awful these characters are, there’s a tragedy to how soft and vulnerable they are, a weakness Fassbinder identifies with and feels empathy for, just as he does with the projective spouts of emotion that attempt to hide the pains of isolation by connecting through maladaptive harm. The acidic humor revolves around the objective interplay, cut through to reveal a universally terrifying pathos. We don’t care about any of these people, just their existential trappings that hit our own Achilles' heels of psychosocial horror.

Even before the titular game beings, Angela spends the bulk of the narrative playing 'games' with the adults in her life as unwitting chess pieces. She is getting power where she can, as kids do, but we also suspect that she's playing by the rules emulated from her social context; her parents gaming each other through lies and secrets, Gabriel doing the same with his plagiarizing, Kast enabling everyone through posing as a pathetic gatekeeper without an identity of her own. Angela's mother resents her, the innocent, due to her own failings and incapacity to actualize her full desires openly. So it would logically make sense for Angela to project her own anger reciprocally on her mother. The irony is that everyone wears their selfishness on their sleeves, even as they hide their other emotions, relational secrets, etc.

As for the game, well... no wonder Sarris supposedly taught a whole class on this film. The game is intricate in how it dominates its opponents, which are really everyone in the room regardless of who they're distinctively talking about. By coding reflections of one’s feelings for another person, passive aggression finds its sharpest weapons in what is left unsaid. The game forges vague reflections from clear cultural representations (including people both in the room or artists, symbols in psychological art-test suppositions, roles in historical events) to define the way they see the mystery person in question. All must evaluate themselves against these overwhelmingly nebulous, and thus threatening, anti-signifiers by the nature of their invisible connotations from the beholders. If 'hate' was an obvious implication, I doubt anybody would have been so affected, but unknown judgments engulf the subjects in the oil of everything they know, from superficial ideas to intimately familiar people, and they are forced to wonder what others' associations are to these terms. This then triggers another awful reminder for each person on the other team: that they don't really have a pulse on anyone else. They are each so. fucking. alone.

If a key theme is how fragile our egos are, it's significant that only one round of this game is able to be played before ids erupt. They can’t bear to cope with this kind of flooding paranoia, and there is a sadomasochistic pleasure in unmasking this vulnerability, just as there is a relatable discomfort when we process the idea of being in their place. The cowardice of anyone but Angela to be transparently honest is worth exploiting though, and my favorite moment of the film is when they all go after the ‘help’ in their final answer (of course), protecting themselves and one another from the shame for a brief instant, to engage in a self-fulfilling prophecy by projecting onto the safest mascot in the room, as Angela immediately calls them all out for doing! They can't possibly believe it's her, but it doesn't matter- they choose to believe it because any alternative is too insufferable to endure even musing on internally.

The mystery of the second gunshot disinvites us to join in finding out who is the second most ego-fragile person in the room, and who provokes them into violence to cope… a mystery that reflects the dense, disturbing, confounding experience of witnessing the game and engaging in negative self-reflection while wondering what others think about you- as a half-truthful consideration of who you really are. Why are we not invited? Well, probably because it doesn't matter. The first answer in the game was obvious, given the information we had through the narrative as well as the body language and framing of the scene- but it was still tense, because everyone in the room was being tortured through their persecution-complexes being tested. Now that we've experienced this horror by proxy, there's no need to know who is next to cave to their ids to protect their egos, as their culturally-ingrained consciences crumble. We only know that it's definitely not Angela who fires the gun, for her weapon is exploiting these deficits in the adults around her with language and wit, nor Traunitz, who supports her by doing the same via sign language. It's an anti-mystery because by now we know that they're all equally empty characters, vapid personalities -not because they don't have them but because they're hidden from everyone, including themselves- and so with the information we're given, only their emotional control is salient. Who fires the second shot (or any subsequent ones) doesn't matter, as the game has been established and the consequences set in motion, so all that matters is that someone else does- and that action, divorced from any of its details, evokes the brutal point that the violence was not specific to the mother-daughter dynamic, but to the intolerability of psychological challenge to adults, as Fassbinder sees them.

The final image we see is texted script: a binding-marriage vow question asks us to consider whether we really want to be tied to another human being, who morphs and becomes unknowable and leads to tragedy, or perhaps even exist in a social world. Does Angela want to be killed? Does she hurt others as a death wish, or simply because she is so hurt herself? Is this the only strategy she -or Fassbinder- knows to implement to stay alive, acerbically provoking others' emotions in order to feel stable? If humanity's cowardice, and failure to be honest, is worth exploiting- and if Fassbinder relates to these people, as I assume he does- this film feels a bit like a suicide note; or an admission that he needs to continually, masochistically exploit himself for a chance at salvation.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#193 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:48 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Thu Oct 28, 2021 8:59 pm
The Marriage of Maria Braun

In terms of the titular character, Maria is a strange hybrid of no-nonsense, expedient survivalism tied to a never explained and ungrounded idealized love for the stranger that is her absent husband. (Ironically it’s that very compulsive, reptilian-brained – and perhaps by that point numbed-out – busyness that’s responsible in the end
SpoilerShow
for the distraction that makes her forget to close the gas oven at the end.)
I also have to disagree with Thomsen when he claims that her violence towards Bill doesn’t interfere with our identification with her. That’s a tremendous blow to the soul after the tenderness they’ve exchanged, and we start sensing there a palpable, strange craziness that inhabits her motivations and obsession with the marriage, even if it’s never actually spelled out or explained.
I'll join the three-man chorus that has always found this film impressive but empty for personal involvement (it's handedly my least favorite of the BRD trilogy, though I still like it).

I think Maria's "ungrounded idealized love" is actually pretty simply a product of conservative expectations (here of 'honoring thy husband') informing emotion. Maria's institutional influences provide an avenue by which she convinces herself of sustained love rather than earning it organically, as she may have before the marriage or during said marriage if her husband were present. Maria isn't given that opportunity though, and so she is trapped in a mentality of preserving love and, while he is imprisoned, goes on earning/proving this love (to herself, most of all) through her actions of service in upward mobility. So the final revelation shatters the value of her tangible gestures, sure, but the key to understanding this self-delusion is their interplay before the will is read: Maria frantically running around the house keeping busy, expressing accentuated adoration towards her husband in language without showing it in her behavior (he points out that she hasn't stopped to kiss him or shown any affection, despite being almost naked at one point!) while he slowly roams around aloof and emotionless but is willing to point out, with directness, her lack of engagement. They're ill-fitting partners in this moment, never having learned to meld communication styles to acclimate to the other's level, and are figuring this out subconsciously within the scene. Then they're sitting around listening to a football game... these are all banal, detached interactions- and if the reading of the will prompts an existential crisis, it's only to sober Maria with a literal signifier, to unveil the truth that has permeated the entire scene we've just witnessed: that she’s forced herself to believe in this sacred bond meriting love from conceptual loyalty, without actually feeling it romantically.

So I agree with Thomsen that Maria's violence towards Bill doesn't interfere with any identification we may have with her- though I agree with you, RV, that this is sympathy and not empathy; we are never truly able to identify with her as a surrogate, which would minimize the objective significance of realizing the dissonance between love and duty. Still, it's not a "strange craziness" inhabiting her motivations, but a socially-conditioned -and ultimately self-preserving- definition of love that she truly believes. If anything, I sympathize with her stronger for that action: Maria ostensibly sacrifices her only chance at true happiness, and perhaps even 'true love' (which is organically spawned into being with Bill; in contrast to the continuous efforts to conserve the idea of her marital love with Hermann throughout the narrative), by the magnetism of expectations inebriating her scaling comparisons of "love." It's telling that Maria differentiates being in "love" with her husband vs. being "fond" of Bill, which is a bit like when people say they love a family member but don't like them. In some ways, isn't "love" then the pretensive state, the one we have a duty to laboriously uphold because forfeiting its abstract proximity to our sense of self would threaten our (self and externally) constructed identity? Isn't being "fond" of Bill actually more meaningful, and subtly signifying a process of intimacy forged with effortless inspiration, yet more naturally willful activity, divorced from societal pressure? One is actionably genuine, and the other is theoretically automated.

I find Maria's placement of value in the theoretical whilst convincing herself of its authenticity (and how this self-delusion transcends conscious choice all the way to violent instinct!) to be deeply tragic, rather than a repelling symptom of some unexplained mental condition unique to her that sparks obsessive murder to protect the sanctity of marriage! It's entirely within Fassbinder's worldview to draw a compassionate character deceived into deceiving herself via ideology, and I think that's exactly what he's doing here.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#194 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Nov 25, 2021 11:33 am

Good reading. Although the evidence doesn't seem to me to be obvious that her motivations are the product of merely "conservative expectations", or arguably RFW didn't make it obvious enough (although that might - read: likely would - have made for a less interesting film!). Yes we see and hear her making these assertions about honoring her marriage, and you pinpoint an important scene there being being in "love" vs. "fond of", but we don't have much evidence as to the fact that it's institutional influences (of mostly, or if there's something else) that grounds her motivations. But maybe I missed something.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#195 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Nov 25, 2021 2:28 pm

No you're right, there isn't clear "evidence," but Fassbinder isn't a stranger to leaving definitive proof in the elisions, especially for characters grappling with enigmatic and invisible systems of oppression and influence over their behavior (likewise, there is no 'evidence' that Ali doesn't possess the confidence skills to engage with Emmi in his film, but the depiction of him sitting on his bed, hands on face, speaks a thousand words regarding the mismatch between his desire and his ability to access it). I think it's far more likely than Maria possessing a distinct malady in Fassbinder's canon- to act to protect what she's been ideologically trained to! But where we can agree, I think, is that the film isn't nearly as successful as it should be in navigating our relationship with Maria to make any of these readings one to invest in beyond an aloof, analytical position.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#196 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Nov 27, 2021 8:57 pm

Lili Marleen. Pretty much in full agreement with zedz here. It’s really the Schygulla Show here, and I’m not really qualified to grade her acting but I’ll say there’s enough of her here, in a really uninteresting way, to make you sick of her and be glad it’s her last film in the oeuvre. (Is there a single RWF film where she isn’t showing her armpits?) The characters that she and Giannini play are so two-dimensional, and to some degree that’s true of everyone here, and you barely feel Giannini’s as a significant presence at all here. I can’t fathom what he saw in this role and film.

Beyond all the mediocrity in the filmmaking as such (there’s also some really terribly amateurish process shots in some of the war cut-aways), what strikes me is how it’s such a banal film, really mainstream and simple-minded in its narrative, and thematically inconsequential for a Fassbinder film. And disappointing given it’s his only film set during the war itself. Thomsen says the film was supposed to be told “in the aesthetic language of Nazism, that is, it was supposed to look like the films made at the time”, as a critical comment on how public taste hasn’t changed much since then, but he admits the film fails to render this. I have to agree the film doesn’t push enough in that direction, or feature enough basic care in the film-making, to make anything close to that be discernible.

Something in a similar vein is put across by Noël Simsolo in his introduction to the film on the French Opening DVD – that Fassbinder told him he wanted to make this film a Viscontinian operatic fresco of a film about this vulgar little pop song, Simsolo extrapolating in this way it would reveal that the Nazis are making something spectacular about the trivial, the vulgar and the false, whereas in truth it’s all lies. And these two characters themselves have to lie and cheat to survive in this reality. But surely Fassbinder’s ongoing, deeper artistic interests and motives lie elsewhere than in showing the Nazis were all about lies and illusion? The interesting thing in Fassbinder’s work as it pertains to German history is the idea that the more relevant and hidden problem with the Nazis isn’t that they were the bad Nazis, but that the socio-psychological-political patterns that led to the regime were there among the German people before, and have remained since. This film does nothing to connect to those notions.

There’s one potentially interesting moment near the end when Schygulla and another character are walking in the woods and there’s a reference to Berlin Alexanderplatz. But at this point it feels like an empty gesture, a pathetic attempt by the director to lay on some Meaningfulness in a film that comes off as completely bereft of it.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#197 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Nov 27, 2021 10:25 pm

On IMDB, Michael Ballhaus is listed as uncredited additional DP on this one. I'm curious where this info comes from, as I haven't heard Ballhaus mention this interviews.

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Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#198 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Nov 28, 2021 9:12 pm

Submitted my list: 1974 is the most represented year, all of the 80s films that made my list wound up in the top ten, and zero 60s works are included. Exactly half of my top ten are films that take place in different eras (I'll use "period films" loosely), including my top four.

Struggling to decide on a no. 20 pick, I went back to see how I felt about Whity last year, and hopefully more people see this weird cocktail, imperfect as it is. My writeup from the director's thread:
therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 10:28 pm
Finally got around to watching Whity, one of a handful of Fassbinders left unseen, and it's a fun crackpot exercise that plays by Fassbinder's personal logic in the most transparent terms. Fassbinder has always enjoyed amplifying unorthodox ideas to depict an exaggerated version of earnest melodramatic feelings, I believe to get as close to his hypersensitive experience of struggling through life as the medium can offer. This is one of his more playful approaches to that worldview, serving up racial and sexual social friction within the weird Western Musical subgenre, an inherently repelling combination of flavors that already alienates viewers upon delivery. Everyone seems to be wearing goops of makeup except our lead, imbuing an artificiality that he moves in constant opposition to all as the 'other'- and a key interest for me was flip-flopping between these interchangeable perspectives of whether or not he's the only 'normal' character that we should be identifying with, or whether his normalcy is strange when the dominant way of being is eccentric, thus invalidating his existence in objective terms within the internal logic of Fassbinder's milieu.

The opposing forces seem to be a curiosity of Fassbinder's as well, and Hanna Schygulla joins him as another stigmatized character who also shares our core attention with deserved empathy. Is this 'internal logic' mirroring our outside world though, just in a very heightened manner? After all, these two characters are classified social deviants who check the boxes for being other'd: for Fassbinger perhaps a female whore is societally ridiculed on par with a man who swings both ways sexually- at least the gay character remains consistent and positions himself silently passive in the shadows. Fassbinder's bisexuality and unavoidable loudness in character may be symptomatic scarlet letters contributing to the self-concept he's never been shy about feeling extra-burdened by, even against marginalized groups that he perceives thwart his belongingness. A bit like a lone hero in a western, alone against cold landscapes, lawlessness and the black sheep of a family of already segregated individualists. Would Fassbinder dare to see himself as the isolated 'other' through the surrogate of a black man? Nothing would surprise me from this man's pansexual-esque perspective on emotional relatability effacing concrete demographics of identity.

The empty space of nonverbal interactions can get so dragged out at times that they perfectly mimic actual spaghetti westerns' deliberate pace building to two characters getting closer, musically moving to hysterical degrees- especially as they climax with perverse sexual encounters or antithetical fizzles into banal meaninglessness (or, how about a looooong drink from a bottle- just going on a few seconds long enough to be funny before returning to quiet drama). The film is essentially a giant joke that turns up the volume of absurdities, only to convey a familiar tenderness and pathos in between the lines, though not too much to expel us from the magic of the pronounced constructions of craft.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#199 Post by knives » Sun Nov 28, 2021 9:22 pm

For a second I was terrified the lists were due soon. Imagine my relief I still have time to push off Eight Hours.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

#200 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Nov 28, 2021 9:33 pm

Sorry, there's a lot of time left, I'm just being proactive as I'll be incapacitated for an unknown amount of time and didn't want to forget about it. I suspect that if more people use this project as an opportunity to view Eight Hours Don't Make a Day, especially in the context of Fassbinder's other work, it'll shine even stronger as the bright light it is and become a high-charting dark horse.

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