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Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Feb. 21, 2011
Price: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.95
The future has a look all its own in Fassbinder's 1973 film World on a Wire.
The 1973 science-fiction drama World On a Wire, a 3½-hour movie made for German television by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (I Only Want You To Love Me), is a very inventive and equally paranoid film about the future.
With dashes of Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange) and novelists Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick, World on a Wire tells the noir-spiked tale of a reluctant hero, Fred Stiller (Klaus Lowitsch, Fassbinder’s Despair), a cybernetics engineer who uncovers a massive corporate conspiracy. His discovery involves the reality of life itself, which Stiller learns might very well be an artificial creation. It’s a heady idea that results in the deaths of those who know too much about it — and a concept that’s referred to today as “virtual reality. »
The Criterion Collection continually release some of the best and most important films (not to mention the best picture, sound and supplements packages) one could hope to find in the Blu-ray format and today's announcement of their February releases further cements this belief.
In February, The Criterion Collection will be releasing six films, five new additions to the numbered spine count, as well as one upgrade. The upgraded title consists of two films, La Jeéte and Sans Soleil, directed by Chris Marker. Both films, the former being about time travel through the use of still imagery, the latter about a trip from Africa to Japan, are completely different but inherently connected.
From Sci-Fi to Samurai, the five new additions to The Criterion Collection run the gamut of genres, all representing some of cinema's finest moments. There's World on a Wire, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's futuristic noir tale that was originally »
Despair may not be Rainer Werner Fassbinder's best known or most famous work, but in his all too brief film making career, it may be the film most front loaded with talent. Fassbinder filmed a story by Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita), adapted by famous British playwright Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead), shot by his frequent collaborator, and future Scorsese favorite, Michael Ballhaus (The Last Temptation of Christ), and got international cinema icon Dirk Bogarde to star. With a team like that, there is no reason that film should be anything less than a classic, yet somehow it managed to fail critically upon it's premiere at Cannes in 1978, leaving Fassbinder even more despondent than usual. Thankfully, Bavaria Media took on a massive restoration, and »
The 20th Annual Stella Artois St. Louis International Film Festival (better known to local movie buffs as Sliff) is presented by Cinema St. Louis and begins this Thursday, November 10th. The fest looks like another exciting event for film buffs. Now in its 20th year, Sliff is one of the largest international film festivals in the Midwest. This year’s event will be held Nov. 10-20. Sliff’s main venues are the Tivoli Theatre, Plaza Frontenac Cinema, and Webster University’s Winifred Moore Auditorium with additional screenings at the Wildey Theater in Edwardsville, Il, and Brown Hall on the campus of Washington University. Sliff showcases the best in cutting-edge features and shorts from around the globe. The majority of the more than 300 films screened – many of them critically lauded award-winners will receive their only St. Louis exposure at the festival. We Are Movie Geeks.com will be posting reviews of »
- Tom Stockman
The lights are about to go down, and the stars are getting ready to shine.
The 20th Annual Stella Artois St. Louis International Film Festival (Sliff) will be held Nov. 10-20. Sliff will screen nearly 400 films: 257 shorts, 89 features and 53 documentaries. This year.s festival features a record 205 programs, with 43 countries represented. The fest will host more than 100 filmmakers and related guests.
The festival opens with the St. Louis premiere of .The Artist,. the major hit of the festival circuit, a black-and-white silent romance about the arrival of the sound era in Hollywood that costars St. Louis native son John Goodman.
Other prominent films featured in the festival include .The Descendents,. .Jeff, Who Lives at Home,. .A Dangerous Method,. .Shame,. .Coriolanus,. .In Darkness,. .Butter,. .We Need to Talk About Kevin,. and .I Melt With You. »
- Michelle McCue
Above: Manoel dans l'île des merveilles (1984).
Notebook is unfurling a series of tributes to Raúl Ruiz entitled Blind Man's Bluff: along with some previously published articles, here in English for the first time, the bulk a compilation of new, shorter pieces from a few generous critics and Ruizians on favorite moments from a vast, subterranean filmography. For more from Raúl Ruiz: Blind Man's Bluff see the Table of Contents.
On Top Of The Whale (1981)
Given his immense success with the impossible Proust, Ruiz may have proven the ideal director for Nabokov, especially his hilarious Pnin. Ruiz and Nabokov were well matched with their shared themes of memory and exile, rapture and obsession; their fondness for elaborate word/image play; their grave facetiousness. Imagine what Ruiz might have done with that vertiginous “segue” at the start of Chapter Four of Pnin in which Victor’s nocturnal fantasy imagines his »
Sometimes, second cinematic takes can be superb – and more 'original' than any number of standalone films
Of all the pantomime villains that stalk the movies, few are as loathed as the remake. The endless reheating of leftovers has come to symbolise everything rotten about Hollywood, a staple feature in trotted-out arguments that modern filmgoers have never had it so bad. But for all the odium hurled their way, they just keep coming: Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is about to be released and we're to be offered new spins on Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Lately, the very term remake has become so toxic that filmmakers are reaching for less unloved R words – reinterpretation, re-boot or (be still my delicate guts) reimagining. Others are quick to point out their movies aren't really remakes at all, but sequels or prequels to old »
- Danny Leigh
According to the German actor and writer Peter Berling, the most important thing for the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was "to surround himself with people who needed him for their own survival … from the beginning he wanted to create a 'family', something he himself never had". One devoted member of this family was Rosel Zech, who has died of bone cancer aged 69.
Sadly, Veronika Voss (1982), in which Zech became a Fassbinder star, was the director's penultimate film, released less than four months before his death, at the age of 37, of a drug overdose. "I never felt so comfortable with any other director," Zech declared. "We were just at the beginning and had many plans together." One of these was a biopic of the writer and activist Rosa Luxemburg, the uncompleted »
- Ronald Bergan
"The gloves come off early and the social graces disintegrate on cue in Carnage, which spends 79 minutes observing, and encouraging, the steady erosion of niceties between two married couples," writes Justin Chang in Variety. "But the real battle in Roman Polanski's brisk, fitfully amusing adaptation of Yasmina Reza's popular play is a more formal clash between stage minimalism and screen naturalism, as this acid-drenched four-hander never shakes off a mannered, hermetic feel that consistently betrays its theatrical origins."
"It is, in the final event, very much the play that critics and audiences swarmed around from its Paris debut in 2006," writes Guy Lodge at In Contention, "and such fans' relative satisfaction or disappointment with it will hinge largely on their individual response to the wholly refreshed cast. As with his well-acted but somewhat embalmed 1994 adaptation of Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden, the director hasn't broken a sweat »
"Frederick Wiseman is the deep-cover anthropologist of American cinema," begins the Guardian's Xan Brooks. "Over a 50-year career his documentaries have hidden out in the wings, playing quiet witness to the workings of various social institutions and inviting the viewers to draw their own conclusions. Wiseman has visited schools and hospitals, the Ballet de l'Opera National and the Idaho state legislature. But the spry, reflective Crazy Horse catches him on more ostensibly exotic ground, backstage at a Paris cabaret, purveyor of reputedly 'the best chic nude show in the world.' Very gently, Wiseman disrobes the spectacle and peers inside."
The "catalyst" for the new film, notes Variety's Jay Weissberg, is "Crazy Horse's new show, directed and choreographed by Philippe Decouflé. Wiseman shows old numbers alongside the new, and the difference is striking: An old-fashioned staging like 'Baby Buns,' where pink polka-dots are projected onto the dancers' naked flesh, »
With his features Modern Love is Automatic and Vacation!, filmmaker Zach Clark has caught our eye at Filmmaker. In this interview with Lauren Wissot, he discusses his refreshing aesthetic, which looks towards the stylized melodramas of Douglas Sirk and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, ’60s beach party flicks, and ’80s new-wave porn like Cafe Flesh. And, he does this on a tiny budgets. In Wissot’s interview he explains:
Luckily, I have talented friends who have been willing to work for no money. I also like making movies in places that aren’t big hubs of film production, which keeps costs down, so a small crew coming into a business for a few hours is a novelty and not a nuisance. It also helps to work fast. We shot most of Vacation! in two weeks. If we’d shot any longer, I don’t know that we’d have been able to do it. »
- Scott Macaulay
The picture business regards Patricia Clarkson as not content to mouth the stupid lines beautiful women are expected to believe in
For more than 20 years, a piquant added pleasure in film-going has been waiting for Patricia Clarkson to turn up for a few scenes, or even more. It's a rare thing for her to coast or do anything other than suggest an untidy life in wild bloom behind her few lines. And not many actresses of any age can shift from amiable to crazed, or from kind to intimidating, so fast. So, in Lone Scherfig's One Day, we sigh with gratification when we realise that the hero's mother, dying of cancer and having to be carried to bed, is Clarkson. We are not let down; even in her crisis, this mother has the lemon gaze and the fond but astringent voice that can survey her son (Jim Sturgess) and »
- David Thomson
Because Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant is one of my favorites by the late German director, I’m reprinting here this email from Ira Sachs, whose IFC Center Queer/Art/Film series is screening the film tonight at 8:00 Pm. It’s being presented by choreographer Jack Ferver, who has written a fantastic intro to the film.
Dear Friends of Queer/Art/Film,
“That little girl’s finger is worth more than the lot of you.”
For this month’s August screening, we’re thrilled to finally be able to present a film by the visionary gay German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, especially one as rich and rewarding as the queer classic The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. Featuring the astonishing Margit Carstensen as a lesbian fashion designer who manipulates her assistant, daughter, mother, and lover– it’s beloved by our guest presenter, »
- Scott Macaulay
This week we'll be treated to a big advertising campaign for "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D." I have not seen the film, but I have experienced the process.
Yes, the Scratch-n-Sniff card is back, this time advertised as Aromascope. We have come a long way since Odorama and Smell-o-Vision. Well, maybe not that long a way.
It was May 1981 in Cannes. I had just left Le Petit Carlton, the legendary bistro on a back street behind the old Palais. Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his posse were gathered inside, looking as discontented as usual. I planned to walk down the Rue d'Antibes to the Hotel Splendid. After a block or two I found myself accosted by a press agent. He asked me if I was coming to the midnight screening of "Polyester."
"Polly who?" I asked. In France you never realize they're speaking English.
"The new John Waters film! »
- Roger Ebert
This week’s Must Look At is way not underground, but this cool site came my way this week: It’s a blog devoted to John Tartaglia, the “cement artist” who casted the footprints and handprints of numerous Hollywood stars outside of the famous Mann’s Chinese Theater between 1953 and 1987. This list contains all the stars for whom Tartaglia served as Masonry master. Interesting stuff.Is Netflix trying to kill the DVD? Filmmaker Mag investigates. By the way: Filmmakers offering films for Bad Lit to review via a password-protected Vimeo page is steadily increasing.Light Industry’s Thomas Beard was interviewed by Art in America for his recent “The Unfinished Film” exhibit.The Chicago Arts Archive interviewed filmmaker Amir George about his recent short feature film The Mind of Delilah.For FilmInk, Jason Reed reviews some of the highlights of this year’s Revelation Perth International Film Festival, particularly singling out Zach Clark’s Vacation! »
- Mike Everleth
"I'd like to be for cinema what Shakespeare was for theatre, Marx for politics and Freud for psychology: someone after whom nothing is as it used to be,” German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder once declared, likely half-seriously, half facetiously. Fassbinder died in 1982, at the age of 37, from a lethal combination of painkillers and copious quantities of cocaine. Legend has it he was working right up to the moment of his death, and pages and notes from an unfilmed script were found next to his body. In anyone else's case, this might be mythmaking, but Fassbinder's back catalogue does… »
Before World on a Wire are the Borges-quoting computer from Alphaville and Fritz Lang's notion of worlds above and below (in M and the "Tiger" films, say), down the road are Blade Runner, Baudrillard's "machines for making nothingness," eXistenZ. More than a crossroads of references and influences, however, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s newly restored, made-for-tv 1973 epic is a distillation of the German New Waver's thematic and stylistic motifs into genre form, both jolting and narcotizing. The genre is not science-fiction but film noir, as in The American Soldier; and it's not a futuristic world, for, as with Godard, the future is now: what we see is the 1973 Munich of systematic anxiety and glassy corporate offices, when the German Emergency Acts were still fresh in the collective mind and big steel companies could lurk as shadowy forces in the background. Rather, it's a world of realities constructed and punctured in »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder is most known for his massive repertoire of German melodramas, not genre film. But did you know that in 1973 he directed a three hour made-for-tv cyberpunk flick called World on a Wire? I'm guessing more than a few of you did, but let me tell you they didn't show this one in film school.
Anyway the reason I finally picked up on this little scifi gem is because Janus Films and Criterion have restored it and are sending it to theatres around the country throughout the summer.
Here's what they say about the film:
"With dashes of Kubrick, Vonnegut, and Dick, but a flavor entirely his own, Fassbinder tells the noir-spiked tale of reluctant action hero Fred Stiller (Klaus Lowitsch), a cybernetics engineer who uncovers a massive corporate and governmental conspiracy. At risk? Our entire (virtual) reality as we know it. This long unseen three-and-a-half-hour labyrinth is »
An installation taking up four walls and 16 frames, simulating a car driving north from Dalston Junction, with cameras mounted left, right, fore and aft, Flying Down to Rio itself marks the convergence of two paths, reuniting Iain Sinclair and Chris Petit. Petit's fascination with the view from the dashboard dates back to the 1970s. "Music and speed, combined with the ratio of the windscreen, made for an experience that was often more cinematic than the films I had to review for Time Out," he has said; and his debut film Radio On (1979) contained a cherished driving sequence shot on the Westway, in tribute to Jg Ballard's Crash and Concrete Island, and soundtracked by David Bowie.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “World on a Wire,” a once-thought-lost, nearly-four-hour-long sci-fi epic about the nature of reality and the ways in which we lose ourselves in that potentially futile quest, was made way back in 1973 and for that reason alone, it’s hard not to goggle in awe at how ahead of its time it was, even when it very nearly bores you to death. Based on an novel called “Simulacron-3” by American writer Daniel F. Galouye, “World on a Wire” was originally presented as a two-part German television miniseries (it’s being shown theatrically with a brief, ten-minute intermission, at… »
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