Here is a strange case.
I thought I was watching a movie by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
The first I had ever seen.
But I was not.
And I still haven’t seen a Fassbinder movie per se.
This movie was directed by the late- Wolf Gremm.
Gremm might be most well-known for the 1980 film Fabian.
For that movie, Gremm adapted a work of Erich Kästner.
Kästner was always a bridesmaid and never a bride.
Nominated four times for the Nobel in literature, Kästner nevertheless was an important writer in that he used cinematic techniques in his literature.
Think about that for a second.
What might that mean?
Jump cuts, anyone?
‘Tis now that we pay homage to the great Jean-Paul Belmondo.
AND to my favorite drummer ever: Charlie Watts.
Back to Kästner.
The Nazis burned his books.
These book burnings were instigated by (Psaki) Goebbels.
Kästner may not have really been a man of much integrity.
He wrote for UfA in 1942 under the pseudonym Berthold Bürger.
But you may know Kästner most for a Hollywood adaption of one of his children’s books: The Parent Trap.
Which brings us to our film by Wolf Gremm.
It’s true: Gremm and Fassbinder were close friends.
And I was tricked because Fassbinder is the all-consuming star of Gremm’s masterpiece Kamikaze 89 (alternately Kamikaze 1989).
Like a German version of Godard’s Alphaville.
Fassbinder is 100% Lemmy Caution.
But this whole thing needed a premise.
And that story was provide by Swedish author Per Wahlöö.
Before there was Stieg Larsson, there was Per Wahlöö.
Active between 1965 and 1975, and focusing on his character detective Martin Beck (a Stockholm policeman), Wahlöö collaborated with Maj Sjöwall on ten novels featuring Beck.
Like Erich Kästner, Wahlöö and Sjöwall were leftists.
Not unusual in Sweden.
You will find the same idealistic naïveté in the biographical details of Steig Larsson.
Gremm’s film did well as Fantasporto in Portugal.
And for good reason.
Because it is a fucking masterpiece!
The soundtrack is even by Tangerine Dream.
Lester Bangs would have been proud.
Bangs died about three months after this film came out.
We see Brigitte Mira.
We see Nicole Heesters.
Someone briefly gets naked.
We might even see Fassbinder’s junk briefly.
I’ve gotta hand it to Xaver Schwarzenberger.
This film is stunning.
Like a more punk version of Nicolas Roeg’s work on Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.
Schwarzenberger was (and is) perhaps the equivalent of Godard’s Raoul Coutard.
The world, in general, has not heard of Wolf Gremm.
So this film must be discussed in relation to Fassbinder.
Was Fassbinder as good a director as he was an actor?
I don’t know.
Was Fassbinder as good a director as Gremm?
I don’t know.
Did Fassbinder ever make a film as good as the masterpiece Kamikaze 89?
I don’t know.
Something else should be noted.
Fassbinder himself died two months after Kamikaze 89 was released.
Which is to say, a month before Lester Bangs.
Let’s talk about New German Cinema.
I have devoted plenty of time to my favorite (the Nouvelle Vague aka French New Wave).
But I do not recall ever having broached the topic of Neuer Deutscher Film.
I will say this.
I think Werner Herzog may be the most overrated filmmaker of all-time.
Right next to Tarantino.
I hate to fucking admit it, but Tarantino (whom I hate) has WAY more talent than Herzog.
But hey: my favorite director ever is Godard.
We first join Fassbinder about 1974 with Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.
Eight years later, Fassbinder would be dead.
At age 37.
From a cocaine/barbiturate overdose.
I have lived seven years longer than Fassbinder.
Fassbinder crammed his career into his 30s.
Bangs died of an (accidental?) overdose of an analgesic opioid (Darvon), Valium, and cough syrup.
Bangs was 33.
Someone else important died at that age.
Bangs had a great mustache.
Fassbinder had a weird beard.
A nasty, seven-day stubble.
But Fassbinder fucking had style!
1975 saw him come out with Fox and His Friends.
Fassbinder was married for two years.
He then divorced.
I feel that.
A beautiful lady.
There’s a reason I like Fassbinder.
Because Fassbinder liked Godard.
The Merchant of Four Seasons.
This precedes my earlier introduction.
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.
Fassbinder was bisexual.
He bought Günther Kauffman, who appears in Kamikaze 89, four Lamborghinis over the period of one year.
“calculatedly provocative”, they called him.
A verbal kamikaze.
I feel that.
The Tenderness of Wolves.
I have focused on films available in the United States.
Twenty years coming.