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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Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 1933)

Was The Joker based on Dr. Mabuse? After seeing Fritz Lang's masterpiece, I can't help but think that he was (the modern incarnation, at least). Both Dr. Mabuse and The Joker are institutionalized evil geniuses who control a mob of criminals from inside (although Mabuse has some help), both have hypnotic powers, and both are ridiculously creepy. That being said, it shouldn't be surprising that The Testament of Dr. Mabuse creeped me out in a way that few films ever have, especially considering it's over 70 years old. Dr. Mabuse (about whom Lang made an earlier and a later film, both of which I want to check out) was a criminal mastermind until he saw something during a police standoff that drove him insane. Since then, for ten years he'd been locked up in an insane asylum, where he was silent until he started writing the instructions for a legacy of crime.

In the meantime, Inspector Lohmann is investigating the disappearance of a disgraced colleague who has figured out the secret of a counterfeiting ring. There's also Tom, a member of said counterfeiting gang, and his girlfriend Lili, who has no idea about Tom's actual job. All these pieces come together in what we would consider today to be relatively obvious ways, but its the way that Lang, an obvious master, fits all the pieces together that makes this film worth seeing. It's exciting, with a believable love story (Lili is my favorite character in the film; her response when she finds out about Tom's life is really amazing for a "good" female character at the time), as well as some truly terrifying moments. Dr. Mabuse's ghost is something that will haunt my subconscious for some time. Check out the Criterion DVD, with its (as always) wonderful transfer and special features.


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