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Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 3:10 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8823 Location: Shanghai
World on a Wire is interesting, but low-budgety.
No special effects., but good set design.
It was a TV film in two parts.
I know I liked Part 1, the set-up; but forget why I thought Part 2 was a bit underwhelming. Would have to search for my old review.
I'm a Fassbinder fan, but this is a bit unusual in his oeuvre.
I'd rewatch that if I can dig it up.
I should have a container of German films around here somewhere.

Killing your enemies, if it's done badly, increases their number.
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Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:32 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6652 Location: Black Hills
gromit wrote:
Of course the world as computer simulation was explored prior to The Matrix, which just mainstreamed the concept. And really the overall idea is just a modern hi-tech extension of the world as a dream.

Fassbinder's 1973 film World on a Wire runs the same idea through. It's a two part TV film, and the second part kind of lags, but the first half figuring out the secret is fun and interesting, while the set design is pretty cool and basic, and probably influenced Kubrick's 2001.

World on a Wire was based the novel Simulacrum-3 (1964).
The Thirteenth Floor (1999) is based on the same source and released the same year as The matrix (I've never seen 13th Floor).


Watched about 90 minutes of WoaW last night. The set design does seem Kubrickian. "2001" is a 1968 film, so may have influenced Fassbinder. Since I had seen The 13th Floor, the plot was pretty familiar to me. I think I would anticipate the big reveal anyway, even without that, given the many variants on it since. The acting is not impressive, which seems consistent with a lot of 70s tv. The dialog is fun, as Germans have a precise way of putting things, which comes through even in English subtitles.

As you watch it is clear early on that the computer engineer must have some sense, subconsciously, of where he really is. There is, shall we say, too much composure when certain anomalous events occur, e. g. a random stranger who he asks for a light is suddenly crushed by a ton of cement blocks.
To a typical 2020 sci-fi fan, I imagine the hints dropped in WoaW will land with similar force.

Though I can only offer this as opinion, I believe it borders on factual: 13th Floor is a better film adaptation of the novel Simulacron 3.

He was wise beyond his years, but only by a few days.
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Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:09 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3719 Location: AZ
I really like Fassbinder. But Iím not a sci-fi fan. I got a kick out of Why does Herr R. Run Amok? I think itís funny to see older films where a violent character reaches for a candlestick or lamp instead of a gun.

Lost in my own private I dunno.
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Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 12:19 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8823 Location: Shanghai
I just watched the Matrix last week, and I was bemused by people teleporting through pay phones in phone booths presumably via 54.4 kilobaud dialup modems.

I guess the whole idea of Matrix foot chases would fall apart if everyone was carrying and could just disappear into their own mobile phone at any time.

Killing your enemies, if it's done badly, increases their number.
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Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 12:52 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8823 Location: Shanghai
I think Fassbinder is a bit hot or miss.

I'm a big fan of his late film Veronica Voss (1982), somewhat of a German take on Sunset Boulevard but more sordid and political commentary on post-wr German cultural amnesia and ruthless capitalism replacing ruthless national socialism. It's a black and white film and the lighting is inspired, almost a character unto itself.

In a Year with 13 Moons (1978) is pretty harrowing and sad, with a great central performance by Volker Spengler as a transvestite in 1970's West Germany. I've seen it twice but not for quite a while. It's a real gut punch and I thought it magnificent the 2nd time I saw it, so it's been hard to get ready for a re-re-watch. Will it break the spell? What kind of mood do I need to be in? Also, there's a scene early on in the slaughterhouse where Spengler works which is real tough for me to keep my eyes open for.

So I favor Fassbinder's later period.
He worked fast and used a theatrical approach which allowed him to zoom through productions. He had a pretty great ensemble of actors, and one thing fun about watching is spotting some of his usual rep players in various projects.

The next tier would be
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) -- an interracial relationship drama, fairly low key and objective observant

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978)
This seems sort of a Fassbinder culmination film, but doesn't fully engage me, sort of distant/observant as in Ali.

Berlin Alexanderplatz - a long post-WWI set epic. A bit drawn out and slow paced at times for me. But also some good stuff. I really should rewatch this.

On the flip side, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is barely watchable for me. If it were some sort of experimental off-off-Broadway play you could shrug and say at least they tried. Nothing happens, talktalktalk, wouldn't matter if anything did happen ...

And Beware of a Holy Whore - a film about not much happening while trying to make a film with everyone gathered but the financing. With the exception of Fellini's 8 1/2 films about trying to make a film or books about trying to write a book generally aren't good ideas.

Otherwise, Fassbinder's middle period has a bunch of melodramas which are often skewed a bit and have some interesting/awkward take, but don't seem essential at all. Fox and Friends (1975) might be the best of those imo, but I still have no idea why it breaks into a Jerry Lewis imitation mid-film for a whole scene. I'd put World on a Wire in this realm as well.
There's also the weird Despair based on a Nabokov novel starring Dirk Bogarde, which has a good set up and design and Bogarde and kind of goes nowhere ...

The early Love is Colder than Death (1969) is a Fassbinder version of early Godard (Breathless), as though he had never seen a film before but then started directed one.

Killing your enemies, if it's done badly, increases their number.
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