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I still don't understand the whole milkshake thing.
All about bringing boys to the yard or something like that I've heard ...... if that's wrong then colour me clueless as well

matt72582's Avatar
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I want to ask all the people who recall the beginning of the film, how in the hell did Daniel drag himself, apparently for miles, with a broken leg, up out of his mine and all across the rugged territory he had to navigate to get to lay claim to his find? I realize that he's a tough S.O.B., and I don't mean this early scene to be a flaw in the film. Maybe you can just fill in some of the details which we all miss from the time he's screwed to the time he makes it to the assayer's office. What do you think happened? I'd say it was as significant as anything else that IS ACTUALLY SHOWN in the film.
I think one reason they didn't show Daniel's convalescence was in part because the movie was already almost three hours long, and it might have been tedious to see a man with a broken leg slowly and after many attempts just to get out of the well, as it would have taken even a strong man a LONG time just to get help, dragging himself, recovering. As well as the slow process of turning a one-man enterprise into Big Business; it might have been redundant and very similar to the uneventful early scenes (I know a few who turned it off because of the slow start unfortunately).

I think Daniel is intriguing because we don't know that much about him. He doesn't want to show vulnerability, because of possible betrayal (imposter). You mentioned capitalism, and I think if it wanted to be more anti-capitalist, they might have shown a Charles Foster Kane type of guy.. Someone who starts out wanting to do good, and then becomes corrupted by money.

I have the book, and just did some skimming, but the movie is very loosely based. I think a good critique of the capitalist is how a man who starts life unhappy (flashback to the scene with the imposter mentioning his troubles with his father) probably will always be unhappy. He keeps going because acquisition is his only option, and maybe he might think it would help him on the inside, but it doesn't. I find this true reading the lives of other people in music, for example. After you get it all, he's probably left feeling empty, thinking "Is this is it?" knowing there's nothing left for him to achieve, and that all his efforts were for nothing. But I would disagree for those who think he had no heart, because he does show short glimpses in regards to Eli. On the train as a baby, he holds him with no feeling, doing the bare minimum for his end-game; having a cute-face and the facade of a "family business" to further his business. The baby touches his face, and we can see some feeling, that a child who makes the first move of affection moves Daniel, because he is so bitter. Remember also when he cries after seeing his photograph as a small child (after killing the imposter). Maybe it's his rosebud - innocence.

One more scene. When Daniel finds out Mary is beaten by her father, he seems concerned, mostly for H.W. (despite his cruelty, he never hits H.W., even after setting fire).. Part of it could be distaste for religion, his distaste for such a weak man (I'll paste a deleted scene below), but some because it affects the child. I think a part of why he hates religion is the double-standard. Daniel might be a "back-slider" in some respects, but he is in "Plain View" and makes no illusions that he is an oil man, trying to get all he can. He and Eli are both playing the same game, but his disdain might be due to Eli using a superstition to "cheat" his followers, giving him a little competitive edge, while Daniel does not rely on any supposed supernatural force, which sets the scene for the ending.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is the last film to be considered a classic to be directed by John Ford. This complex western has grown in reputation since it was made in 1962. John Wayne gives one of his better performances as Tom and calls James Stewart's Ransom "Pilgrim" throughout, and for his part, Stewart is stalwart and stubbornly-persistent as the lawyer who wants to get even with the dastardly Liberty Valence (Lee Marvin) who robbed and whipped him just outside of the town of Shinbone when Ransom came in on the stage. This is all depicted in a flashback where one of the characters relates the story of how the three men interacted, which one was the man who shot Liberty Valence and which one wins the hand of the fair Hallie (Vera Miles). To be honest, I find the beginning of the film which sets up the flashback, to be a weak start which the film has to overcome, but it successfully does so, and the actual ending of the film, after the flashback ends and everyone, except for perhaps one significant character, knows the truth of the story to be quite moving. One thing's for sure is that this is certainly superior to the Wayne westerns (Rio Bravo, El Dorado) which Howard Hawks was making at about the same time.

It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Berlin Alexanderplatz (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1980) Rating:

Having watched the first six episodes twice, I can now see the true genius of what Fassbinder has done. He adapted Alfred Döblin's novel, directed and narrated, but it took me a second viewing to actually realize that each individual episode is told in a different style and from a different perspective. From what I've seen so far, I'd say that Fassbinder made the first six (out of 14) all individual films, all about one character, Franz Biberkopf (the incredible Günter Lamprecht), the man who gets out of prison in 1928 after serving four years for manslaughter and finds Berlin and Germany in the midst of a horrible depression and a subtle political uprising. The miraculous thing is that each new episode picks up exactly where the previous one left off, in the middle of the very same scene.

The richness of the myriad characters is matched by two key contributors. Peer Raben's musical score is used wall-to-wall in this film. There is a haunting theme, often played on harmonica, but sometimes the music is very avant-garde and creates a sense of dread or anxiety in the viewer. I'm seriously telling you that I've watched six-and-one-half hours of film and I've heard six-and-one-half hours of music, and damn fine music at that. The other major contributor is cinematographer Xaver Schwarzenberger who liberally use filters and flashing lights at times, but shoots totally naturalistically at others. Apparently, Schwarzenberger took over for Fassbinder's regular DP Michael Ballhaus when Ballhaus quit because Fassbinder was giving him the cold shoulder and not even talking to him anymore (allegedly for working with a different director). Although it would be interesting to see what Ballhaus would have done, what's on the screen is eye-catching.

The film certainly qualifies as a masterpiece in many regards. First off, even though it's certainly a melodrama, it is extremely subtle in how it ties together what happens in it to what happened in what became Nazi Germany. I can only recall the Nazis in one of the 13 episodes (Episode 2), but the way Fassbinder builds the film (probably due to the novel itself) into an exploration of how the Depression, and the general amorality of a defeated country needing to prop itself up in any way that it can, explains why Germany would find solace and salvation in a few short years in someone who supports the notion of "Us Against the World" and that it's OK to kill women and weaker people if it allows "Men to do what they do".

Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht) is truly one of the most complex characters in cinema. He loves women, yet commits brutality to them when not thinking. He understands the idiosyncrocies of politics, yet cannot fathom his own heart. He laughs when he reads about a family murdered by the father, but cries when he feels someone betrays him in matters of the heart. On the other hand, he'll protect a scumbag who causes him to become deformed and won't tell the story to all those who love him and could possibly be saved in the future from said scumbag.

The scumbag in question is the pathetic Reinhold (Gottfried John), another candidate for most complex character ever. In fact, there is a symbiosis between Franz and Reinhold which makes the film far more tragic, but adds to its power as a cautionary tale about the rise of Naziism. Reinhold seems to have to change women every few months and he gets Franz to "take them off his hands". Franz is very friendly and loving and agrees at first, never really understanding how emotionally immature Reinhold is. But, then again, Franz is terribly immature too, and this all folds in upon itself as the film implies that atrocities are accomplished by emotionally-immature men who feel they have a right to inflict their own desires on those "weaker" than themselves.

By far, the brightest part of the film is the angelic presence of Mieze (Barbara Sukowa) who comes to love and worship Franz. The character of Mieze allows the possibility of redemption to all the characters, and in fact, the entire nation of Germany, but her sweetness and beauty aren't allowed to overcome "the way things are". I have to first explain that Mieze is already a streetwalker before she even meets Franz, but she retains an innocence and, yes, purity, which is undeniable to all who see her. She immediately falls madly in love with Franz, and the audience falls in love with her. Peer Raben's music, which has already given Franz one of the greatest character themes in film history, gives Mieze one of the prettiest themes I've ever heard. I basically cry every time I hear her theme and see the wide-eyed love which Barbara Sukowa conveys. The fact that she becomes the ultimate conflict and tragedy present in the film only adds to its power.

One other thing I want to share about Fassbinder is that I believe he was a kindred spirit to John Cassavetes. They both worked at approximately the same time, and they both made highly personal films with naked emotions and extremely long takes. I couldn't actually time them all, but I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't at least a dozen scenes in Berlin Alexanderplatz which lasted at least 10 minutes, and if they all didn't, it's only because of a very brief edit. The actors obviously had to be prepared to film such scenes, along with the cinematographers.

I can't wait to watch the epilogue. From what I understand, it's totally bananas stuff inside Franz's head and something along the lines of the Book of Revelation. At the end of Episode 13, Franz is laughing like a Madman, and I feel sorry for him, but since he is an "innocent" who represents how Germany turned towards Naziism, I can only imagine what his sorry mind can hallucinate. I've heard different reactions about this epilogue. I just hope it blows my mind and still has something pertinent to say about the actual story, characters and meaning of Berlin Alexanderplatz

This is the third part of my review of this epic 15 1/2 hour mini-series/film. I have watched it about 2 1/2 times so far.

I'm mostly concentrating on the two-hour epilogue here. I will admit that even taken in the context of the previous 13 1/2 hours, the epilogue is disappointing, and I can't give it any more than
, which may be generous. It just seems more pretentious and intentionally over-the-top than the film proper, which doesn't overly concern itself with symbolism and surrealism. It also seems far too long for what it's trying to convey, so it suffers from overkill by rubbing the viewer's nose in some things which were better left implied in the first 13 episodes. I mean, when Franz is being crucified, and his mother Mary (Brigitte Mira, Franz's landlady) is holding a doll of Baby Franz wearing a swastika, and then an atomic bomb goes off in the background, it's a strange combo of bravura filmmaking and incredible vulgarity.

There is still much to be impressed about in this epilogue. At the end of the 13th episode, Franz was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and the gist of this epilogue is that Franz is taken to a mental hospital and appears to have dreams involving all the characters from the earlier part of the film. There are also two Angels (Helmut Griem and Margit Carstensen) who are following Franz around, discussing whether he is worth saving, considering his ordinariness. The first 15 minutes of the epilogue are very stylish with dead and living characters interacting with Franz in a Twilight Zone version of Alexanderplatz. The camerawork, staging and art direction are all quite striking here. There is also an original use of a spinning camera projected onto a background in a boxing ring during a later scene involving a fight between Franz and Reinhold which should not only have your head spinning, but maybe your mind being blown.

Writer/Director/Narrator Fassbinder (one of the few times you will see him without a cigarette)

The middle part of the epilogue is where the brutality and sex seem to take over and result in scenes which go on far after their potency has ceased. However, it's also in this part that Fassbinder does introduce anachronistic use of modern music, and I believe that this does work. Along with appropriate period music and some older classical and opera pieces, you will hear songs by the Velvet Underground, Elvis Presley, Kraftwerk, Janis Joplin, Donovan, Leonard Cohen and Dean Martin.

Overall, the epilogue cannot dilute the power of the first 13 episodes, plus there are enough scenes which actually add to its meaning that I can take the overblown stuff. For every scene set in a slaughterhouse with humans as the slaughtered, there is a thoughtful scene such as the one where Reinhold explains his relationships with women to his prison cellmate. Reinhold has formed a deep love for this man and cannot understand his feelings although he certainly acts on them. When Reinhold says that he'll be lost when the man is released in two days, it's just about the first time that he reveals any warmth or love for anyone in the entire movie, and it definitely adds to the already complex nature of his character.

If anyone missed it and is interested, I have a mini review of a 1931 version of Berlin Alexanderplatz right here

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012)

Endless shots of "students" drinking, smoking, snorting and shaking their booty. That's the good half. When the idiotic James Franco character appears, and the message (?) that his and the spring breakers' lifestyles lead to a dead end seems to be presented, it becomes even more boring, pointless and obvious (in a convoluted, nebulous manner).It is Korine's best-looking film, but that means little when what cinematics on display fail to be coherent or meaningful. I suppose the best I could say about it is that it's more successful than Only God Forgives, but that's the movie it reminded me of, both stylistically and in what I consider their muddled messages.

To reiterate in more detail, though maybe as unclearly as I think the movie does.

I think the reason most people who say they don't like Spring Breakers is because it seems to have a split personality and a mixed message. The film seems to be targeted to high school and college students and starts out as a celebration of booze, drugs, immature behavior and sex. I think that even most of the people who defend it will say that they don't like such movies (unless they're young or feel they missed out on that) but maybe I'm wrong. Then the movie gets more "artistic". It wants to show these particular party girls being seduced by a hiphop, gangsta devil and beginning a life of crime. It wants to be some kind of morality play, but it makes this devil too ridiculous. It also makes the crime lifestyle just as seductive as the party life was. However, the style of the movie is more serious in the second half - it slows down, has "artistic" scenes like the Britney Spears bit and other things whose intent is strangely unclear. Then it ends in something which could be considered tragic or a life lesson, but I took as "about time!" and actually would have preferred an atomic bomb to explode to cleanse the characters, their world and the viewers.

This is also presented in some beautiful photography (unlike most of Korine's films, I don't fault it technically), which appeals to those who think that artistic visuals are more important than content. I'm not sure what was the actual message Korine wanted to convey, but I'm assuming it's something about wrongful behavior bringing sadness. Or maybe it's that you should party and enjoy good-looking things (although beauty, like depth and meaning, are in the eye of the beholder) when you get the chance because it will all be over too soon. Or maybe it's you should just like a movie even if you don't know why exactly. That's fine for those of you who enjoyed Spring Breakers. But for those who don't like it and know why, it's fine to say that it's bad. Bad and good can mean a lot of things. The film is a mixture of both, but I think it's up to each individual what side they believe it falls