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New on Video: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s ‘The Merchant of Four Seasons’

The Merchant of Four Seasons

Written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Germany, 1971

Rainer Werner Fassbinder had a true talent for probing insights into the deep despair and disenchantment of the human condition. His characters were doomed people, ones fellow German New Waver Wim Wenders speaks of as helpless and hopeless. Such descriptions perfectly suit those in Fassbinder’s 1971 film, The Merchant of Four Seasons, which is out now on a new Criterion Collection Blu-ray. Here, Hans Epp (Hans Hirschmüller) has just returned from duty with the French Foreign Legion. Home in Munich after being gone about a year, he is first greeted with a less than enthusiastic reception from his mother (Gusti Kreissl). As he tells of friends lost in the fighting, she counters with, “The best are left behind while people like you come home.” This is just the tip of the iceberg for what Wenders says is
See full article at SoundOnSight »

World on a Wire Blu Ray Review

World on a Wire Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder Written by Fritz Müller-Scherz and Rainer Werner Fassbinder Starring Klaus Löwitsch, Mascha Rabben, Karl-Heinz Vosgerau, Adrian Hoven I’d never heard of World on a Wire before Criterion’s announcement of its re-mastering and subsequent theatrical re-release in 2010. The trailer they’d put together hooked me immediately, based mostly on the retro-future set design and the promise of a strange, hard sci-fi thriller full of intrigue and mystery. The picture did not disappoint. With the recent blu ray release, I was thankful to be able to sit down with this epic film once again and try and make sense of any details I’d missed the first time around. In the not-too-distant future, a supercomputer called ‘Simulacron’ provides scientists with the ability to simulate and study a virtual society comprised of 10,000 ‘identity units’. When the technical director of the program, professor Vollmer,
See full article at FilmJunk »

DVD Playhouse--March 2012

DVD Playhouse—March 2012

By Allen Gardner

J. Edgar (Warner Bros.) Director Clint Eastwood provides a rock-solid, albeit rather flat portrait of polarizing FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, covering his life from late teens to his death. Leonardo DiCaprio does an impressive turn as Hoover, never crossing the line into caricature, and creating a Hoover that is all too human, making for an all the more unsettling look at absolute power run amuck. Where the film stumbles is the love story at its core: Hoover’s relationship with longtime aide Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). In the hands of an openly-gay director like Gus Van Sant, this could have been a heartbreaking, tender story of forbidden (unrequited?) love, but Eastwood seems to tiptoe around their romance, with far too much delicacy and deference. The film works well when recreating the famous crimes and investigations which Hoover made his name on (the Lindbergh kidnapping,
See full article at The Hollywood Interview »

'Martha Marcy' and Criterion's 'Anatomy of a Murder' Lead New DVD and Blu-ray Releases

Anatomy of a Murder (Criterion Collection) I looked back through my Netflix queue to see when I first watched Anatomy of a Murder and it turns out it was back in January 2009 and while I remembered enjoying it I didn't remember the film per se. So it was a treat to pop this new Criterion Blu-ray in the player and settle in to Otto Preminger's 1959 thriller with James Stewart in the lead and an impressive supporting cast and a feature filled with dialogue you can't get enough of.

As for the transfer, it's almost too good as a moment early on featuring the makeup on Lee Remick's bruised face is so obvious it's almost comical, but you're hardly paying attention as she does everything in her power to seduce Stewart into taking her husband's case.

Anatomy for a Murder may best be known in the movie blogosphere as
See full article at Rope Of Silicon »

This week's new films

The Iron Lady (12A)

(Phyllida Lloyd, 2011, UK) Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman. 105 mins

Depicting Margaret Thatcher as a human being is already being over-generous in the eyes of many, but this weird biopic gives us Thatcher as a senile old dear, looking back on her memories and conversing with the ghost of Denis, which means we're forced to empathise. What's more, this narrative device defuses the more contentious aspects of her political legacy. The career highlights are dutifully run through (Falklands, Brighton bombing, a bit of poll tax, the miners' strike barely happens), but there's little curiosity about how the rest of Britain felt or fared as a result of her reign. What's left is a faultless, often riveting impersonation by Streep, and a sense of a personality undone by its own unbending will, but there's little here to dent the ironwork. You could imagine this playing on Fox News.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Blu-ray, DVD Release: World On a Wire

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Feb. 21, 2011

Price: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.95

Studio: Criterion

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.
See full article at Disc Dish »

Quick Shooter: A Clint Eastwood Profile (Part 3)

Trevor Hogg profiles the career of Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood in the third of a five-part feature (read parts one and two)...

“You’ve got to keep stretching out and trying other stuff,” observed actor and director Clint Eastwood. “I could have chosen a lot of scripts that were different than Bronco Billy [1980], that were less of a challenge but it was worth trying.” The native of San Francisco, California explains, “It’s about the American Dream, and Billy’s dream that he fought so hard for. It’s all the context of this outdated Wild West show that has absolutely no chance of being a hit. But it’s sweet. It’s pure.” The subject matter resembles the work of two legendary Hollywood filmmakers. “My first thought was that Frank Capra [It’s a Wonderful Life] or Preston Sturges [Sullivan’s Travels] might have done it in their heyday. It has some values that were interesting to
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Notebook Reviews: Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "World on a Wire"

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
See full article at MUBI »

Retro Slave: Rainer Fassbinder made a three hour cyberpunk movie?

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
See full article at QuietEarth »

New Releases: Two rare Rainer Fassbinder Films on DVD

Olive Films will give two movies by the late, great German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Marriage of Maria Braun) their digital debuts in the U.S. Despair (1978) and the TV movie I Only Want You to Love Me (1976) will be released on DVD on June 7.

Vitus Zeplichal takes a train ride to potential happiness in I Only Want You to Love Me.

Adapted by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) from the novel by Vladimir Nabokov, drama Despair is set in early 1930s Germany against the backdrop of the Nazis’ rise to power. It’s here that we meet Russian emigrant and successful chocolate magnate Hermann Hermann (Dirk Bogarde, Death in Venice) as he starts to experience a growing mental breakdown. Hermann soon encounters Felix (Klaus Löwitsch), an unemployed laborer, whom he believes to be his doppelganger. Trying to maintain his sanity, Hermann hatches an elaborate plot, which he believes
See full article at Disc Dish »

DVD & Blu-ray out this week

World On A Wire

Second Sight

It's always something of a treat when a visionary director tackles science fiction. Kubrick's 2001, Godard's Alphaville, Verhoeven's Robocop are all fine examples; even flops such as David Lynch's Dune are often very interesting failures. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's adaptation of Daniel F Galouye's 1964 proto-virtual reality thriller Simulcron Three, is an unmitigated success. Unavailable almost since its first broadcast on German TV in 1973, the film has built up a strong reputation, which it more than lives up to. Dr Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch) takes over command of a breakthrough computer program after the mysterious death of the previous boss. The project has created a large, virtual world inhabited by over 10,000 "identity units" – simulated human characters with artificial intelligence, oblivious to their true nature. We've had a lot of films dealing with similar concepts since (The Matrix being the most obvious), but few have truly engaged
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

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