Sabtu, 28 Mei 2011

Rainer Werner Fassbinder - Chinesisches Roulette aka Chinese Roulette (1976)

All Movie Guide wrote:
Angela is the crippled daughter of two separated but still-feuding parents. In this Rainer Werner Fassbinder film, the wealthy parents are both induced to come to their country vacation house with their lovers in tow. For years, they have tried to make Angela feel guilty for having driven them to seek comfort outside their marriage, though ironically there is some indication that their dalliances may have had a hand in the accident that caused her condition. In this unpleasant milieu, they begin playing a truth-telling game called "Chinese Roulette," which leads to even more distasteful revelations and recriminations..

Vincent Canby, New York Times, 22 April 1977 wrote:
Laughing With Fassbinder
RAINER WERNER FASSBINDER'S Chinese Roulette, which opened yesterday at the New Yorker Theater as part of the current Fassbinder festival, is a mysterious comedy of such deliberate elegance that it constitutes a kind of introduction to the later, so-called Sirkian (after Douglas Sirk) period of this extraordinary young German director—as he himself might write it after submitting to his fifth or sixth solemn interview in one day.

The film is still very much about one of the principal Fassbinder concerns — power — here demonstrated in the hold exercised by a tyrannical teenage girl, whose legs are paralyzed, over her self-absorbed but essentially innocent parents. The concern with power is there all right, but even more apparent, intentionally so, is the film's style, which is camp lyricism of such density it becomes a lethal weapon.

One could die of acute dizziness watching the Fassbinder camera as it circles around a drawing room, capturing images partially distorted by glass or seeing someone reflected not just once but two or three times in mirrors. The characters are full of ferocious emotions that are revealed only within long, pensive glances or small insults. Hands touch briefly. A wife compliments her husband's mistress on her beauty. Later she gently kisses the younger woman's neck. She might well be taking a bite out of it.

The setting is a castle that is the weekend retreat of Gerhard (Alexander Allerson) and his wife, Ariane (Margit Carstensen), a wealthy Munich couple who seem to be ideally happy when we first meet them with their pretty, partially disadvantaged daughter.

On this particular weekend Alexander, having told Ariane he was going to Oslo on business, accompanies Irene (Anna Karina), his French mistress, to the castle only to find that Ariane is already there with her lover. Being, they think, sophisticated, the four decide to stay on as each couple had originally planned, but before they can finish their first, edgy dinner together they are joined by the daughter, Angela, and the daughter's mute companion.

The cast of characters does not end there, though. It also includes the castle housekeeper, Kast, played by Brigitte Mira at a far remove from her title role in Mrs. Kusters Goes to Heaven. Kast wears brilliant red lipstick, bouffant hair and eyelashes so long and sharp they look as if they could scratch the finish of a Mercedes-Benz. Instead, she simply bosses around her androgynous son (V. Spengler) and laughs with delight when the crippled child falls off her crutches.

The weekend is one of circling camera movements and emotions, as if no one wanted to be caught in a sitting position (metaphorically speaking, of course), and it's climaxed when Angela persuades her parents and their guests to play an after-dinner truth game called Chinese roulette. The results are seemingly fatal. I emphasize seemingly since the film is full of unexplained actions, references, connections. It's also full of jokes, some less dour than others, such as the blind man who comes to beg alms at the castle and drives off in his own car that has an obscene license plate.

Ordinarily I'm not particularly taken with this kind of film making. Yet Chinese Roulette is fascinating even when it's frustrating, but then, I suppose, it's not really frustrating. Though the mood is cool and distant, the film is hypnotic. One can't break away from it. It's not a movie that attempts to imitate life but to create another reality through artifice, which becomes an end itself. One tends not to notice feelings and ideas, but only the dazzling technique.

This, of course, is the Fassbinder way of italicizing his ideas and feelings, but it's also something that one should be prepared for when one goes into the theater. Otherwise it might be rather a shock.

The performances, as in the brilliant Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, have as much to do with the physical look of the actors and with choreographed gestures as with any conventional communication of emotions. Thus Miss Carstensen, with her ideally planed mannequin's face, which is more a representation than reality, is the perfect Fassbinder actress, but Miss Karina's beauty — magnificent eyes set in a virtually impassive face — works almost as well, as do the furious little-girl features of Andrea Schober, who plays Angela.

Taking one step at a time, Mr. Fassbinder is exploring new methods of cinema narrative that are more original and daring than anything I've yet to see by film makers who call themselves avant-garde. One must not be too ponderous about him, though. Where Douglas Sirk expressed himself through glass, the medium, in this film seems most often to be Lucite, and that's another joke. - Chinesisches Roulette aka Chinese Roulette (1976).avi - Chinesisches Roulette aka Chinese Roulette (1976).srt

Subtitles:English .srt
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