On a film set there are two things missing, the film material and the director. So the actors and actresses as well as the crew try to make the best out of the situation. When the director ... See full summary »
On a film set there are two things missing, the film material and the director. So the actors and actresses as well as the crew try to make the best out of the situation. When the director arrives the material is still missing and so they still wait and try to make the best out of the situation. When the material finally arrives all folks involved into the film find themselves in a weird situation. Jealousy, competition and despair are ruling. Nobody seems to be able to break through this atmosphere, so they all still try to make the best out of the situation, but this is probably not the way to finish the film. Written by
an unusual and perverse fascination abounds in this episodic 'making-but-not-making-of' movie
It's amazing to see that Rainer Werner Fassbinder made this picture when he was just 26 (and, perhaps not too oddly enough due to his reputation, looks all of 41 as the producer Sascha) and it has the kind of sad insight that an older, more experienced director would have. But from everything I've read, he was already this experienced, for better or worse, as the director depicted in the film, Jeff (Lou Castel). Jeff is hot or cold, sometimes both, and can either be sullen or deep in thought or just going completely off on someone and throwing them off the set. In Beyond a Holy Whore he's shooting- or trying or not trying to shoot- some movie starring Eddie Constantine in a role that sickens the veteran French star, and most of the crew and women around him languish in a sea of distilled despair: will the movie actually get finished? Where's the money? Who's sleeping with who? What will be the consequences of this or that?
In terms of the storytelling, I was thrown off at first by Beyond a Holy Whore. It's not really very uniformly put together, and makes 8 1/2 look about as lucid as a Hollywood Golden Age picture by comparison. It's not really dreamlike, but it's got a sad, perverse streak of rotten existentialism going on (or maybe what Fassbinder thinks it is). So, from time to time, it is a little choppy, as one scene goes into the next without much of a sense of where the story is. But after a while I got into the modus operandi; this is by design a story of this man, Jeff, and his producer, Sascha, along with various groupies, gay folk, disgruntled actors, going along with a flow that never seems to be taking any charge. What becomes clear, in segments that occasionally have comedy to them (I just started laughing at one bit where Jeff was losing it and crying hysterically while directing a scene) and sometimes have a lonesomeness as via the characters, is that film-making can be a rotten enterprise when the creative well runs dry.
But it's not just about creativity or lack of inspiration for Fassbinder; it's also a kind of mood that he sets which is important, of going through a similar self-imposed brutality that the director wants depicted in the film within the film. As far as "director self-commentary" pictures go, it's not one of the best ever made. But it is an interesting picture all the same, one that grows on the viewer accepting of its loose form and sad notes - not to mention fine points of irony like the sweet Leonard Cohen songs playing over the decay at the bar.
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