- Chinesisches Roulette (Chinese Roulette, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany/France, 1976)
- Best of the MIFF Shorts
- Un lac (A Lake, Philippe Grandrieux, France, 2008)
In some respects, I feel similarly towards Fassbinder as I do towards Godard. Other than Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, little of Fassbinder's work touches me and - like Godard's films - feels designed to remain distant. Chinese Roulette is unmistakably Fassbinder: the melodrama, the score, the sexual innuendo, the camp undertones.
Anna Karina's role demands little of her. She plays the husband's mistress and speaks a few words of German here and there. As in Godard's films, it appears her role is little more than window-dressing, pretty as she is.
The film encapsulates an era, and is fascinating in that context. The story is a bit of a romp and enjoyable enough. Like Godard, I don't feel I know enough about Fassbinder's intent to discuss the film further, but am happy to be enlightened by others. I enjoyed the film, but it was nothing special.
Best of the MIFF Shorts
I didn't realise that this session was largely taken up by the awards ceremony, so we only got to see six shorts:
- Instead of Abracadabra
A Swedish comedy (with a zany sense of humour guaranteed to appeal to Australian audiences) about a young layabout whose amateur magic shows sometimes put relatives in hospital.
- Next Floor
The silent era styeled credits preface a film without dialogue. The visuals recall any number of gothic horror films and the style is almost Greenaway.
- Two Men
A simple premise is explored in a novel fashion, a kind of what-if, indigenous style.
- Necessary Games
I can't say I'm a big fan for experimental cinema, though this one is intriguing.
- The Cat Piano
Inventive, entertaining, film noir with a voiceover by Nick Cave - how could you go wrong?
The animation does an excellent job of making a dark subject accessible. Who'd have thought that the terrible things described are taking place today?
"It's like sticking knitting needles into your eyes" is how one walk-out described this film to me, though I found it captivating. I just had to capture that response, which I find amusing, and fair enough. I noticed quite a number of walk-outs and I don't blame any of them.
A Lake is a difficult film: the hand-held camera has a tendency at times to replicate the experience of the epileptic protagonist. There's not a whole lot happening. Our man cuts down trees in the snow. The visuals are staggeringly beautiful. His fits are increasing in frequency, which he reveals to his sister (with whom he has a sexual fixation), but not his mother.
The film is dark, brooding and again, difficult. Yet somehow compelling.