Kamikaze 89 [1982)

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.

Made twice.

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.  

Communists.

Marxists.

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.

Edgar Froese.

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.

It pops!

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.

So what?

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.

Ingrid Caven.

A beautiful lady.

They say.

Hanna Schygulla.

Godard’s Passion.

1982.

There’s a reason I like Fassbinder.

I think.

Because Fassbinder liked Godard.

The Merchant of Four Seasons.

This precedes my earlier introduction.

1971.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

1972.

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.

1973.

As actor.

I have focused on films available in the United States.

On iTunes.

I am.

Pauly Deathwish.

Twenty years coming.

10/11.

-PD

 

disassemble [2021)

Way behind on Pauly Deathwish.

Right off with XTRMNTR.

Shoot speed.

Kill light.

Spirit of rock and roll.

His most popular track at this time.

Straight rock.

Bad boy.

Drugs flowing through the veins.

Overdose of light.

God is the ultimate drug.

Coming back from depression.

Girlfriend goes on a date with another bloke.

Big depression.

Drugs consume.

Always creative.

From London to Paris.

Vintage keys like French band Air.

Every touch from two tracks imbued with Radiohead experimentation.

Pink Floyd bass.

Waters lives.

Here come the warm jets.

Camera clicking photos.

Virgin suicides.

Tomita.

Amazing groove.

Levon and Robbie Robertson.

Rhythm of the saints.

This bloke has nothing to live for.

His girlfriend is a total fucking bitch.

Alone in the world.

Short circuit.

Trying to overcome.

She don’t give a fuck.

Melancholy.

Info op birthed.

Suicide Girls.

Anti-Antifa.

Bloke has sophistication in attack.

Philosophy.

Wars back started BLM.

Kept powder dry.

Amazing hip hop.

Stevie Wonder.

Shaft.

The Sea and Cake.

Jazzy Jeff.

Fresh Prince.

Young MC.

Stereolab as always.

Trump supporter smart.

Assessment of coup against Deep State.

Progress report.

Situationism.

Velvet Underground.

The balls to review his own albums.

Balls?

Toxic relationship.

Electronic music.

Chemical Brothers.

Dark side of the moon.

Fever dream.

Of the wall.

Oasis.

Noel feeding back.

Liam blowing harp.

Ringo’s son on drums.

Don’t believe the truth.

Soundtrack music.

Hanna.

How she lives now.

Soylent green…2022.

Beastie Boys.

Nigel Godrich as always.

Big Star Third.

Kanga Roo.

As important as the Velvets.

Drug withdrawal.

Big Star early albums.

Chiming.

Like The Byrds.

Phil Spector lives in the glockenspiel.

Lester Bangs lives here.

Lavage.

Many disappointed patriots.

Lamenting the shitty U.S. military.

While honoring the 13.

And Colonel Scheller.

A handful of gems in a culture of shit.

Astrology.

Drag balls.

Berlin.

I love faggots as much as anyone.

David, Lou, Iggy.

Heroes.

God is the only hope.

So I prayed tonight.

Twin peaks.

Nobody loves me.

Keeping real.

Mercury Rev.

See you on the other side.

Rolling the dice.

So long, Charlie.

I’m guessing you got the vaccine.

Poor bastard.

BBC.

AstraZeneca.

Elvis.

Gene Vincent.

Eddie Cochran.

Happy Hairy (?) Hardon Q.

QAnon Christian Slater.

The first of a long succession.

The Verve.

Anthemic melodies befitting Handel.

Air.

Matrix done right.

First song to mention Event 201?

“Follow the White Rabbit”.

Shhh/peaceful.

Very Jefferson Airplane.

Psychedelic march.

Woodstock.

Altamont.

Power to the people.

Pro-Trump psych rock.

Fucking awesome!

AMERICA!!!

Be a rebel.

Kanye poser.

No vaccines, asshole!

Good job.

Adapt.

Drozd.

Great snare work.

Verging on adrenochrome.

Hefner and Monroe.

Sexy dead bodies.

Pay to grind for eternity.

Absolute Flaming Lips.

Transmissions from the satellite heart.

Keith Cleverley.

What is God gonna do for America?

What is America gonna do for God?

Nation falling apart.

Amnesiac.

Hail to the creep.

Rollerskate Skinny.

Darth Vader.

Lloyd Austin.

Scorsese Glass Kundun soundtrack.

Well-done!

Carl Stalling project!

Helmut Lachenmann.

Deserter’s Songs.

Underture.

This is a SOPHISTICATED FUCKING RECORD.

Violent Femmes.

Tom Waits.

Bobby McFerrin.

AUSTRALIA, WAKE UP YOU CUNTS!!!

Invading Sydney!

Give me ANZAC!!

Let’s go!!!

ACK-ACK!!

Fucking awesome return to Bobby Gillespie.

Great fucking song!

“Australia, Here I Come!”

Even uses the comma correctly 🙂

Riot city blues.

“Nitty Gritty”

MC5.

Baby won’t ya?

PERTH!!!

BON SCOTT!!!!

Love and Rockets.

Bitch who dumped me.

How?

By not giving a fuck.

By proxy.

By not participating.

By being a selfish cunt.

Q Team, come in!

How many years?

Second American Revolution.

Miles Davis.

There’s a Riot Goin’ On.

Late-Godard.

Second Pauly Deathwish song to mention Jean-Luc.

Who the fuck is this nigger?!?

Def Leppard.

She’s a fucking black hole.

I take it all back.

A pathetic bleeding vagina.

Money soothes all pains.

Paul Simon.

She’s a loser.

Jack Nitzsche all the way.

Rips your heart out.

Fucking hell.

I will die lonely.

Having given it all away.

Hear the typewriter click.

Are there two people?

Or one?

QAnon stylometric analysis.

Switzerland.

Obvious split in styles.

Who?

Final track.

Primal Scream.

Manchester.

Manchester City.

Gimme the rain, the rain, the rain, the glorious rain!!!!

Luton.

I got close.

Freezing your tits off.

Seeing your breath.

We coming for the sexy bitches.

With stellar boob jobs.

Jazz funk.

Acid.

Trip hop.

Acid house.

World party.

Factory Records above all.

Baggy as fuck.

Gimme them saggy titties.

Real better than fake any day.

Ain’t returning my messages.

Would love that bitch like Cleopatra.

Suck her toes.

Conspiracy theory king and queen.

Blew it several times.

Because heartless bitch usurper.

Same birthday as Lester Bangs and Nostradamus.

Ends with Pocket Symphony.

Everybody hertz.

Ya feel me?

iTunes.

Spotify.

-PD

L’Éternel retour [1943)

You might wade through theories near and far.

About the indestructability of energy.

And they would be true.

Great poets put their pens to page.

And poured out their hearts.

Rage!!!

Nay, sage…

Neigh, cage.

Nain, has a lot of courage to die in this way.

He’s not dying, he’s living.

He’s the positive man.

Wounded and scared.

Since the birth of the gun.

At least.

Must be hard to follow an endless stream.

As just a pebble.

And these my feet.

Right about now, the break.

Chalumeau.

Achille.

Zero acceleration.

Enormous forearms.

A clinically depressed quarterback.

Zero awareness.

Idiot savants all.

We welcome more to the eternal return.

Jean Cocteau.  Wrote the film.

Auteur.

And Jean Delannoy directed the film.

Auteur?

World War II and two blondes are battling it out in love.

And the only brunette is mon oncle…with his perverse moustache.

They call him Mr. Blond (which makes things extremely confusing).

How you know you have become a writer:

I must write or I will die.

Some famous for writing diaries.

All manner of writing.

And when we first fall in love she is reading.

Like Anna Karina…near the end of Vivre sa vie…or was it Made in U.S.A.?

Should be easy from black white to Lichtenstein popping.

But I see colors when there is only the absence of color.

And specific colors in the full chromatic.

A white scarf.

We can get the sweat of the desert gun running Rimbaud from Jean Marais.

Aden.  Mocha.  Sanaa.

A hitch in there somewhere to Abyssinia.

In the time of the assassins.

We all descend on Aswan high as kites for burial rites.

Now that I’m flying, I don’t feel so tired.

Two blond specimens of perfection.

Lorded over by the brunette fuhrer.

A war film.  Resistance.  Don’t capitalize.  To hell with the umlaut.

I’m feeling better, getting that out of my system.

That wave of sadness.

Regret and memories lapping at my feet on a Corsican shore.  I assume.

Nietzsche to inspire Cocteau.  (Occupied Cocteau?)

Cocteau always several orders of magnitude more brilliant than his peers.

Nietzsche was a foundational literature for the Nazis.

And Webster Tarpley has Nietzsche as a foundational literature for the neocons.

And so making this film in censored times.  Under German occupation.

The only other film which jumps out at me is Les Visiteurs du soir (1942).  And then our L’Éternel retour of 1943.

And so you saved something of the war.

Surreptitiously.

Filming even before the columns of tanks had left.

Rossellini.

Culture jamming meets national security state.

Woo-ha!

Each Spartacus.

It’s a miracle he fell in love with her.

A miracle.

I’m the dwarf.  I’m Marais.  I’m Murat.

I’m among those lining the street to see Madeleine Sologne’s parade.

Lovingly.

And all alone shot with the realization that I’ve found a reader.  A genius.

A spark plug pulled from a pocket.

Must step over her bed.  To access the stairs.

That’s a moment of love.  Slow drag dancing on her cigarette.

As much as blondie’s fatted hair parted smart.

Hear your laughter at being upside down.

Heels over head.

Such a romance as only the French know.

And I know.  I seek.  Found.  Find.  No more.

Factories of love struggling with the lutte.

People married to their devices.

Too ugly to get a date.

There we go.

Me and Lester.  And Chuck.

Throw some more guys from the skunkworks in.

The name.  They work.  All night long.  Don’t bathe.

Maybe put in another day.

Don’t wash clothes.

Don’t even change clothes.

How “Skunk” Baxter got put on missile defense team.

You never know, folks.

There may be love yet to be had.

Pure love.

Mad love.

Keep your eyes and minds open.

And maybe if it’s even just a boring day.

Maybe there will be little pieces of art in the things you say.

Because you are toiling on something far beyond your current abilities..

So I praise film!  And France!

First review written while sleepwalking.

 

-PD

Mulholland Dr. [2001)

How not to start a symphony.  With a rest.  #5 (7)j j-j o ^ (7)j j-j o

Beethoven started with a pause.  A pause, in this case, is unheard.  Felt.

No hay banda.

Il y a n’est pas d’orchestre.

I wish I was more confident in my French memory.

The Spanish is simpler.

[silencio]

It could be Roberto Benigni in La vita è bella reeling off a priceless punchline.

[silencio]

It could be John Cage forcing us to listen in 4’33”.

Painfully good.  A perfect film.  Mulholland Drive.  Dr. Mulholland.

I’ve either gained you or lost you by this point.

Dr. Benway.

You will excuse the word virus at work.

Perhaps the word bacteria predates Burroughs.

Always a cut-up in class.

And those classy suits.

It’s a talent to be weird, though Charles Mingus would argue otherwise.

A talent to be simple.

You have to stay with me like Lord Buckley or Lester Bangs.

I got yer Oxford comma right here.

, and don’t I know it!

She takes Hayworth’s name from Gilda.

Rita.

Laura Elena Harring.  Laura Harring if you’re into the whole brevity thing.  Concision of expression.  Bthvn.

If you really wanna impress the familia, it’s Laura Elena Martínez Herring.  Miss USA 1985.  Just missed 1984.

Or well, Wilbur…

Mr. Ed.  Paging Mr….

Herring.  Pink.  She is a living Modigliani onscreen for a brief moment on a couch.  A stippled nipple in deep focus.

But this is not her film.  She is a MacGuffin in heels.

No.  This is Naomi Watts’ film.  Boy is it ever!

But let us pop this balloon before it goes all Vivre sa vie on us.

Is this the best Amer-ican film ever made?  Probably.

Dog Star Man has a steep mountain to climb without a soundtrack to blow Sisyphus to his zenith.

F for Fake is to American cinema what Histoire(s) du cinema is to the French pantheon.

The only real challenger, then, might be Gummo.

But let us return to Maestro Lynch.  David Lynch.  Montana Dave.  The Cowboy…

This is, to reiterate, a perfect film.  Such creations do not come along often.

As such, we should savor each morsel of finesse embodied in this feast for eyes and mind.

And don’t forget the ears.  Badalamenti.  Badda bing, badda boom.

What would Chico Marx have made of this film???

Who cares…  It’s Chico stuffed into a dough ball suitcase with $50k and Groucho and Harpo mashed up

with even a good portion of Zeppo as Little Mr. Sunshine in Naomi Watts’ first character Betty Elms.

Nightmare on Elms’ street.

Mulholland Dr.

Great minds think alike.  Cannes premier of this film May 16, 2001.  Radiohead’s Amnesiac album?  June 5, 2001.

Rita.  Camille.  Diane Selwyn.

Kryptos.  Jim Sanborn.  Mengenlehreuhr.

Set theory.

(0,2,3,5)  Le Sacre du printemps.

Spitting espresso into a napkin, strikes fear in the hearts of the most hardened capitalists.

Fear.

The Flower That Drank the Moon.  Not a real film.

The Big Sleep.  She.  H. Rider Haggard.  Angel-A.

Finnegans, upon waking, diapasoned Wachet auf.

Just call me Death.  Everyone else does.

We don’t stop here.

We push on.  Like Gene Wilder on a magical fucking river of chocolate.

You can’t split the existential atom any further.  Kubrick tried in 2001.  And now Lynch had arrived at the same year.

If you open a MacGuffin, you will find nothing.

I have a bag full of money and I can’t remember my name.  That is Hollywood.

This is the girl.

And the gun.

24x per second.

Truth before the big lie even sprouted wings.  L’Effroyable imposture.  Vérités et Mensonges.

It’s like the old Edison tone tests.  Hit the lights.  Who’s playing?  The phonograph or the violinist?

Like looking at L.A. through Roy Orbison’s glasses.  A blur…a haze.

No one has split the literary atom any further than Louis-Ferdinand Céline.

[…]

Those three little dots.

The rhythm of speech.  From Modest Mussorgsky to Harry Partch.

Boris Godunov was lousy so we had to shave his armpits.

We would have never gotten to know each other so well, Boris and I.  Henry.  Mr. Bones.

Yeah, I keep on sloggin’ and get diminishing marginal returns.

Just a fancy way of saying less and less.  Nothing (more or less).

And then nothing turns itself inside out.

Naomi Watts goes from gee swell to Valerie Solanas.

The key.  CERN.  When they rev it up.

What does it open?

Möbius (stripped bare by his bachelorettes), even

[The Large Hadron Collider]

Mimesis.  Die a Jesus.

Greatest goal in life?

To achieve immortality and then die.

J. Hoberman.  J. Mascis.  J. Spaceman.

Putrefaction is merely Der Untergang des Abendlandes.  The decline of the evening lands.

Rises east, sets The West.

Civility.

L’Usine de rêves.

That killer blonde that we all want.  From Kim Novak to Daniel Craig.

Monty Montgomery.  Hope you only see him once more.

Good v. Bad, 410 U.S. 113 (2001)

The abortion of Newtonian physics.

Twice.

Thrice.

Michael J. Anderson as Larry Silverstein.

We don’t stop here.

This is the girl.

Maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.

And we watched the building collapse.

That would be the shadow government.

An accident is a terrible event—notice the location of the accident.

Who gives a key, and why?

-PD

A bout de souffle [1960)

To paraphrase Lester Bangs regarding The Velvet Underground, modern cinema begins with Jean-Luc Godard.  The strangest part is that Godard’s trajectory has been somewhat like that of the great French novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline.  Both would be primarily recognized in their lifetimes for their first creation.  For Céline it was the groundbreaking spleen of Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932) and for Godard the film in question (his first full-length feature).  The most criminal aspect of this whole equation is that Godard IS STILL ALIVE AND MAKING GREAT, GREAT FILMS!

For awhile, my dissatisfaction with the public’s reception of Godard over his long career led me to undervalue his earlier works (to perhaps balance out the disproportionate attention these films get in relation to his oeuvre as a whole).  What cannot be denied, however, is that Breathless (literally “at the end of breath”) is as important to film as Journey to the End of the Night (Voyage…) is to literature.  There are more similarities.  Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is not so different from Céline’s Bardamu.  The spirit of youth and anarchy run throughout these two works…all of it tied together with a dark humor which disarms as much as it offends.

The key to Godard’s film is that it is radical while also being somewhat subtle.  Perhaps this is only accurate in hindsight (considering what has followed Breathless in the cinematic canon), but the avant-garde nature of the film is really in all of the little rules it breaks.  The most oft mentioned are the jump cuts (and there are plenty of them).  A deeper reading into the history of the film might reveal that Cécile Decugis and Lila Herman were responsible for this novel approach as much as Godard.  Agnès Guillemot did not become Godard’s regular editor until Une femme est une femme (or Le Petit soldat…take your pick).  There is reason to believe that the jump cuts were mainly in the service of keeping the action going.  Along with Martial Solal’s excellent noir jazz, the pace rarely slackens but for a few contrasting scenes.

What is less-discussed is the plethora of filmic references which play like an inside joke for the Cahiers crowd.  Breaking “the fourth wall” is just one of the many transgressions which Godard takes up joyfully in this affront.  One might venture to guess that what was truly “dégueulasse” to Godard was the state of the French film industry leading up to his first real foray into direction.  At every turn, the “tradition of quality” is left in the dust as Breathless speeds away wild and free.

-PD