Though he never actually worked in Hollywood, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who died in 1982 at the age of 36, was influenced greatly by Amercian studio films of the 1950s and the convention of...
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Though he never actually worked in Hollywood, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who died in 1982 at the age of 36, was influenced greatly by Amercian studio films of the 1950s and the convention of melodrama (the link most often mentioned is Douglas Sirk). With actor-turned-filmmaker Ulli Lommel as host and guide (he appeared in Fassbinder's very first feature, Love Is Colder Than Death, in 1969), documentary filmmaker Robert Fischer conducts a tour of Hollywood today, pausing to chat with cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and actress Hanna Schygulla # both charter members of Fassbinder's tight-knit stock company of technicians and players # as well as Wim Wenders, who found the toehold in the studio system that Fassbinder never had. The proceedings are liberally sprinkled with clips from Fassbinder's films, as well as glimpses of a theater company in Los Angeles that specializes in performing the director's plays. As Fischer makes clear, Fassbinder's influence on Hollywood is not only still ...Written by
yes, interesting, but not focused and self-serving (for Lommel)
This is a one-hour documentary that one would assume would be about the time that Rainer Werner Fassbinder tried to make a mark in Hollywood with some of his films. I thought, indeed, that he had tried to do that somewhat near the end of his life/career, which was cut short when he died at 37, with films like Despair and Lili Marleen. But if I was to go by this documentary I'd be mistaken, though I also am not sure there's enough here to justify the title.
There are some good interviews here, from some of his former collaborators like cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (his are the most interesting on the technical aspects and how their collaboration sort of developed, or at least started with a great anecdote about making the anti-Western Whity in 71) and Hanna Schygulla (her reminisces are the most moving), but it's also co- produced and co-written by former Fassbinder gun-for-hire Ulli Lommel, and his involvement shows... a lot. It wouldn't be an issue if there weren't some stretches where the documentary seemed to become more about him and the start of his career (i.e. Blank Generation clips and Warhol), which only gets back to Fassbinder by a reach-around/wrap-around approach from director Robert Fischer. The documentary begins actually in an odd way too, as it focuses for the first ten minutes on some experimental Los Angeles theater group who put on Fassbinder plays; they might make for some good stories in a longer-form documentary on the director and his other works, but the theme is still *Fassbinder* in *Hollywood*, and it seems to be squeezed in like a dress that's a size or two too small to fit in.
Again, if you do check this out and you love Fassbinder's films, there's surely some good things to take away from - Wim Wenders, one of the other most famous in the "New German Wave" of cinema in the 70's and who was friends with Fassbinder (I liked most when Rainer offered to "punch out" Francis Coppola over his supposed mistreatment of Wenders while making Hammet) - but the title is verging on a misnomer. On the one hand it's kind of interesting to get some background facts about how Hollywood influenced Fassbinder in his early films (not to mention Douglas Sirk in the 50's of course, albeit he was the German father figure he always wanted), it doesn't go a ways to not contradict when later in the documentary his collaborators mention that Fassbinder didn't *really* want to make films in Hollywood so much as he was probably getting tired of the German cinema system that was constricting him in the late 70's. There's a lot of what ifs to this as well since one can never know what would've happened after 82.
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