9 April 2017 | Quinoa1984
like early Godard without the interesting parts - for Fassbinder completitsts only
In this first feature from RW Fassbinder, which is among the movie titles that should be preserved in a National or World Archive of the movie titles that should be remembered a thousand years from now (if such a thing could be done), it's like he decided, as the Godard-phile that he was, to take Bande a Part and emphasize most of the parts where the characters do nothing and make it look cool (all of his early features, until he discovered Sirk at a festival when he was about 26 - I didn't know this until recently, but it explains why there isn't much by way of melodrama until Merchant of Four Seasons). The only problem is Fassbinder is also working here without a firm script - or, as he told Uli Lommel according to 'Fassbinder in Hollywood,' the script was all "in his head" as it were - and it shows.
This is also kind of like what one might see as what the "kids" were doing about five-ten years ago when the "mumblecore" movies were coming out, though with a crime movie twist (Lommel even has the Alain Delon look down from Le Samourai with the trenchcoat and hat, which means Fassbinder is actually homaging the homager): three aimless young people, one of who gets kicked out or has some kind of problem with a gangster "syndicate" as it's mostly called, decide to try some crime and, eventually, rob a bank or something.
I say 'something' not to sound flippant, but because Love is Colder Than Death doesn't give much to the audience aside from total disaffection - there are so many cigarettes here Better Davis at the time probably would've said to them to calm it down a little - and this "cool" attitude, which also includes the distance, at least for the most part. Actually the most interesting actor here is Fassbinder, something about his face and eyes seems to convey things about his uncertainly and yet dedication to a life of crime and/or not doing much at all; it's certainly more than Lommel does, who has one mode the entire film (even when he has a gun to someone in an wreckage field out in the middle of nowhere ready to kill for... a reason I guess, you could've fooled me!) Hannah Schygulla meanwhile, in the first of what would be a long collaboration of films, is fine though seems to not be given much in the way of direction.
I think I'm hard on this because I came to this after seeing so many of his films. It doesn't do much to say criticisms to stymie the director - he's been dead now decades - but I implore newcomers to Fassbinder to not start here, as it could give the wrong impression about his other work. And this is not to say either that there isn't some worthy direction or cinematography or cutting here, and in the last ten minutes, for the climax for what it is, there's some urgency and dread effectively communicated through Fassbinder's Malaise-of-Cinema style. And yet I can't recommend it; there are passages here where we see characters walking for five minutes, or at a supermarket for five minutes walking, or sitting around or playing pinball or seeing buildings go by for five minutes at a stretch at night or I don't know what, and there's nothing interesting about it. I'm fine with minutiae, but you got to try something - and to say Godard didn't work with a script isn't entirely accurate as a comparison basis.
Surprisingly to me, Fassbinder started and ended his career on his least impressive efforts; I couldn't watch it all in one sitting came back to the last 40 minutes a week after starting) as I felt so dulled away by Fassbinder's *anti-cinema*, which I'm sure was the intentional coming from his theater background. And I so wanted to engage with this; it's like the movie is confronting you to try and find something to connect with past its (yes, as the title says) cold exterior.