senseabove wrote: ↑Fri Oct 08, 2021 2:22 pmIt'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.
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.zedz wrote: ↑Sat Oct 09, 2021 2:21 amI 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: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.SpoilerShowJeanne Dielman, 23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which employs the formal rigour this kind of experiment cries out for.
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!
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.