Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Lola (RW Fassbinder, 1981)

The third in Fassbinder's BRD trilogy, after The Marriage of Maria Braun and Veronika Voss (I actually saw a film series in order for once!), Lola is Fassbinder's conclusion of his tales of post-war German women's lives. Whereas Maria Braun is devoted to her husband and uses the post-war economy to boost her own social status and that of her husband, and Veronika Voss is more or less ruined by the fall of the Third Reich, where she was so successful, Lola represents the end of the post-war era, where women both could use and be used by the system. A revisioning of von Sternberg's The Blue Angel, Lola concerns the titular singer/prostitute who decides, even though she is kept by a very wealthy construction mogul, to seduce the seemingly uncorruptible building commissioner, von Bohm. But where The Blue Angel is interested in Lola and the professor's marriage and the professor's downfall, Lola ends just at that point, leaving Fassbinder's message very much more vague than von Sternberg's.

There are so many layers of meaning in Lola, which is typical of a Fassbinder film. Not only does Lola have a child by her brash, over-confident (representative of the previous era) lover Schukert, she attempts to win over von Bohm without revealing her profession, which she knows rightly that he wouldn't approve of. There are a few devastatingly constructed scenes where von Bohm and Schukert are talking about the same, but different, things, a perfect example of dramatic irony. Barbara Sukowa as Lola doesn't even enter into the same sensual stratosphere as Marlene Dietrich, but it's easy to see why von Bohm would fall so in love with her. By this point in his career, Fassbinder had given up on most of his reperatory players, so seeing a familiarly directed film with all these new faces is a different kind of experience. All the elements are here, but this film pales slightly in comparison to the first two, for some reason I can't quite put my finger on. Recommended, but see the other two first.

A note on the poster (straight from Robert Katz' Love is Colder Than Death): Lola was made at the time when Fassbinder was first attracting real Hollywood attention, and the film was almost called off because of a preliminary poster, which was pink and vinyl-looking. Fassbinder commented that he hoped he would never make a film that "pink," and he really didn't, but the posters tell a different story. I love the pop art, sex kitten poster, but it doesn't represent the film fairly, and I could see why such a tempestuous man as Fassbinder would have been outraged by it.


RIYL: BRD trilogy, The Blue Angel

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