Archive for September 27th, 2009

Andreas Winkelman … is repairing the roof of the cottage in which he lives as a literate hermit. At one point, he stares off at the sun that hangs low and dim—with its edges made ragged by a telephoto lens—in the Scandinavian sky. Suddenly the sun disappears into the gray-blue haze, but it’s as if Andreas had willed it invisible, much as he has tried to will himself invisible without taking the ultimate step. With this lovely image, Ingmar Bergman begins The Passion of Anna…”

Vincent Canby, The New York Times, May 29, 1970

A little more than halfway through For the Love of Movies, Gerald Peary’s enthusiastic and authoritative documentary about the history of film criticism, the above passage is quoted. While the narrator reads Canby’s words aloud (and they are as “lovely” as the film he’s describing), we are treated to Bergman’s images and even more importantly, the evocative, delicate soundtrack – Andreas’ hammer on the rooftop, the sheep-bells tinkling – which the critic does not describe. Prose – at once intelligent and impressionistic – is fused with solid yet elusive image and simple yet vaguely abstract sound; criticism meets art and the two shake hands in the light of Bergman’s, and Canby’s, disappeared disc. All in all, it’s a stirring tribute to the movies and to those who love them, both being the subjects of this film. (more…)

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berlin alex 1

(West Germany 1980 921m) DVD1/2

There is a reaper, he is called Death

p  Peter Marthesheimer  d/w  Rainer Werner Fassbinder  novel  Alfred Döblin  ph  Xavier Schwarzenberger  ed  Jiliane Lorenz  m  Peer Raben  art  Harry Baer

Günter Lamprecht (Franz Biberkopf), Hanna Schygulla (Eva), Barbara Sukowa (Mieze), Gottfried John (Reinhold), Franz Buchrieser (Meck), Karin Baal (Minna), Peter Kolleck (Nachum), Elisabeth Trissenaar (Lina), Brigitte Mira (Frau Bast), Hans Zander (Eliser), Margit Carstensen (1st angel), Helmut Griem (2nd angel), Ivan Desny (Pums), Claus Holm (Max), Helen Vita (Franze), Hark Bohm (Lüders), Annemarie Düringer (Cilly), Roger Fritz (Herbert), Barbara Valentin (Ida), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (narrator),

There have been many truly great television drama serials made and many of them have been wonderful adaptations of classic novels (such as Granada’s Brideshead Revisited), yet Berlin Alexanderplatz is so much more than just a magisterial monumental adaptation of a piece of literature, it is the best pictorial and dramatic representation of any city at any given time as has yet been offered.  Not that Döblin’s masterpiece is the only book to so capture a time and a place (one thinks of Petronius’ Satyricon for 1st century A.D. Rome and Joyce’s Ulysses for Dublin), but those works have proved rather elusive on screen.  Fassbinder not only captured the essence of Döblin’s work, but in some ways improved on it, adding his own perspective, most notably in the phantasmagoric epilogue, which dispenses with plot for the most part, instead presenting a hallucinatory descent into a man’s near fatal madness, mixed with Wagner, Strauss, Glenn Miller, Kraftwerk, Dean Martin, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed and sacrilegious imagery.  The result is overpowering, egotistical but also essential Fassbinder, and one of the greatest in the German cinema. (more…)

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