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Dull but offbeat use of biopic cliches
9 March 2003
Two young film buffs are fascinated in the death of Marilyn Monroe, and set about trying to prove how she died. The amateur sleuths are given very sketchy motivation for wishing to look into Monroe's death several decades after she left us, and the movie is constructed in the manner of an A&E documentary with a few added dramatic "perks" in the form of these two kids. But wait! Director Ulli Lommel, who specializes in making vanity movies that never get public release, uses many minutes of cheaply-filmed recreations of Monroe's last days. The movie is static and confusing, manipulating biopic cliches in ways that have been emulated by A&E and other documentary makers for a decade. Apparently, MARILYN MY LOVE was Lommel's attempt to make capital on an abortive Monroe docu-pic that he had shot but could not release. So, he filmed framing sequences concerning these two teenage actors. Ironically, Lommel was unable to find public distribution of MARILYN MY LOVE! Will the world ever get to view Lommel's vision? Doubtful. But it has an interesting behind-the-scenes history.
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Make it stop!!!!
18 August 2002
R.W. Fassbinder was a great deal more complex and interesting than this ersatz documentary would suggest. In it, former Fassbinder collaborators Ulli Lommel, Michael Ballhaus and Wim Wenders wax nostalgic about the man and the myth. Mostly, they comment on the myth. This film cleaves nicely with the propagandistic view of Fassbinder held by the official Fassbinder Society -- As some critics are reviewing Fassbinder, they are also revising his influences on world cinema. That said, this film is much more Lommel than Fassbinder, which is unfortunate as Lommel is the least interesting character on view here -- he proposes ad naseum what Fassbinder would have done as an artist in Hollywood, which if you think about it could make for a sly parody of Fassbinder but here it's all taken seriously. And Lommel takes himself far too seriously, as if his association with Fassbinder rubbed off on him long enough to give him a swig of talent (it didn't). Amateurishly shot on videotape, FASSBINDER IN HOLLYWOOD was shown on German TV this year. I see that Lommel makes a lot of bad vanity productions that no one sees. He produced and "stars" in this production. It should have been called ULLI LOMMEL TALKS FROM HOLLYWOOD AND SAYS NOTHING INTERESTING ABOUT FASSBINDER. The best thing about the documentary is an ever-so brief visit with Wim Wenders, who sits uncomfortably in what looks like a swing set and breaks through the film's deadening editorializing with a refreshing bit of honest emotion.
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