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gromit
Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 3:10 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8827 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.

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bartist
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).


SPOILERS POSSIBLE

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.

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Befade
Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:09 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3720 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.

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gromit
Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 12:19 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8827 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.

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gromit
Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 12:52 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8827 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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 1:26 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8827 Location: Shanghai
A bad viewing run:

Two Nights with Cleopatra (1954).
Italian comedy with Sophia Loren in the titular role.
Really a Turkey. Not funny. You wonder who the audience for this was.
Pretty poorly dubbed into English too.

The Getaway (1972)
Peckinpah film with Steve McQueen getting out of jail, bickering with his wife, and immediately going on a poorly executed crime spree.
It's just boring and drones on with silly near escapes.
Ali MacGraw is a pretty poor actress, just terrible line readings.
She looks great, but rather too sweet for this part (she's Bonnie to his Clyde).
Every now and then there's some bit of editing that was apparently fancy then but looks dated now.

Angel Heart (1987)
There's a decent idea at its core, but then it explains the process via voodoo. And we get a tour of New Orleans and its exotica. NO was big in films around this time, and this is sort of standard issue, but with a few edgy weird scenes tossed in. Kind of dumb and rather easy to figure out where it's heading, especially due to some of the expositional dialogue. A certain type of amped up late 80's/early 90's film.

At least the music is pretty good. The guitar player role is filled by Brownie McGhee. And he not only has a song, but gets to act a bit too. And for the NO feel, they have some young black kids on the street singing and dancing. And I presume they were a real street act. Otherwise, we do get a topless young Lisa Bonet, while Mickey Rourke is good in a few scenes.
Not my kind of film, and I was underwhelmed.

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Syd
Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:15 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12652 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
I also found Angel Heart underwhelming; in fact, by the end I actively hated it.

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gromit
Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:48 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8827 Location: Shanghai
I didn't like Angel Heart much.
But there were a few good moments now and then.

I liked when Rourke went to the beach (Coney Island or wherever) and talks to a couple he finds there. The beach composition to start is very nice. You don't know where the scene is heading, and then instead of any menace the couple turn out to be sweet and quirky, with the cloud-tanning husband giving Rourke a nose guard ("I found a whole box of them under the boardwalk") and the wife singing an old tune in the surf. That was nicely shaggy and off beat.

As mentioned above, thumbs up for casting real folk-blues legend Brownie McGhee and giving him a speaking role. The name for DeNiro's character is reasonably clever. And the meeting in the church, which is fairly good, is more interesting after the DeNiro reveal.

But overall I thought it was trying too hard, and I didn't like all the Nawlins voodoo stuff and thought using that was lazy. But I did think it was an early 90's film (I was guessing '90/91) so maybe it was a little ahead of some of the use NO mojo of the era. AH sort of fits on with DePalma era sex and gore films (which think they have some psychological insight/angle).

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Befade
Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2020 2:58 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3720 Location: AZ
Thatís interesting. Of all movies, I think I found Angel Heart the scariest. Iíve watched it twice. The second time with dread. I remember the atmosphere in NYC being creepy....and liking Mickey Rourke. You have a great memory Gromit.

On the other hand I watched Peeping Tom last night because I read that it was scarier than Psycho and that the director had influenced Scorsese and others. I found it dated and clumsy. And there were too many red haired women.

I havenít seen as many Fassbinders as you, Gromit. But my favorite is Ali, Fear eats at the Soul. I started Lola....have to go back to that.

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gromit
Posted: Sat Nov 28, 2020 5:05 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8827 Location: Shanghai
I've seen a lot of Fassbinders.

I think The Marriage of Maria Braun is the closest in style/tone to Ali.
I really don't remember Lola.
Seems it didn't make much impression on me.
I have Veronica Voss as the standout in that BRD set.
But should give Lola a retry.
I think it got relationship melodrama like many early Fassbinders, and I tuned out.

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gromit
Posted: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:46 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8827 Location: Shanghai
I liked In the Heat of the Night 1967 more than I expected to. I'd seen it before but largely forgot it.
I'm somewhat surprised it won the Best Pic Oscar and Steiger got a Best Actor win. It's good and timely and Steiger and Pottier make a good racial conflict team. I liked the whole cast, with even smaller roles being filled with interesting faces. It's one of those films where even characters on screen for just a few minutes seem like the truly have a life and existence and story of their own outside the film.

The script is a little stuffed (three separate suspects are serially jailed for the killing, before the real killer is caught) and pat at times (catching the real killer). But mostly it works and you don't notice the seams. And it allows for a short sharp ending. I think I should try to catch more Stirling Silliphant works, maybe some Naked City episodes. Thad been a large box set of Naked City seasons, which I never bought and now unlikely to ever be seen again in Chinaland.

Anyway, I had a good time with Heat of the Night.
There's nice surprises, like the Ray Charles tune that open the film as Pottier gets off the train during the opening credits. And then the contrast with the sheriff's deputy listening to Glen Campbell on banjo. Musically setting up the clash to come. There's also Sparta (Mississippi) and Philadelphia (PA), but I'm not too sure how that factors in.

I like later when the deputy is in a jail cell, and Mr. Tibbs passes by him to talk to the other prisoner, and the deputy is reduced to asking the (free) black man for help. Then Tibbs talks to the other prisoner a while and you basically forget about the deputy, but as Tibbs finishes, the deputy pathetically again asks for help.

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