The Cinema of Ulli Lommel: A creepy serial killer film.,
12 November 2003 | 9/10
Author: Miyagis_Sweaty_wifebeater from Sacramento, CA
Tenderness of the Wolf (1973) is an excellent film about a serial killer living in war torn Germany. Fritz Haarman was a pedophile psychopath who lived during WWI Germany (the time period in the movie was moved up to WWII). Ulli Lommel’s style of directing was a nod to Fritz Lang and the other German expressionist filmmakers of the the 20’s and 30’s. Beware, I must warn you that this film has some strong adult content matter that most people will find repulsing. But those who are open minded will find this movie an interesting and honest portrait of a madman. Lommel and Kurt Raab (who also wrote the screenplay) portray Fritz Haarman as a tortured soul who can never truly express himself or convey his emotions. In his twisted mind he sees no harm in what he does. Several Fassbinder stock players have supporting and minor roles in this picture including Fassbinder (he cameos as a real shady slug). Kurt Raab does an excellent character study of one of Germany’s most notorious serial killers.
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2. EFFI BRIEST
This film has everything one could ask for: astonishing visual intelligence and imagination, wonderfully evocative, impeccably composed images that draw on silent cinema and painting, all perfectly adapted to the very moving story being told, and the period/milieu in which it unfolds: Effie Briest is presented as enclosed in the many different spaces (most of them – especially the interiors – saturated with stifling formality, social rectitude and conformity) through which she moves and in which she lives, or tries to live (the bird in the cage being a transparent symbol of all this). Quite simply, Fassbinder knows – knew – what “mise en scene” really means. The passage of time is brilliantly handled (through, for example, the use of the fade to white, intertitles and a moving voice-over narration), and the cast is flawless, as well as being flawlessly directed. A film of immense dignity and power, yet it somehow remains understated…
3. ADOLF AND MARLENE
1 April 2010 | 10/10
Author: marybogens from United States
Charlie Chaplin made a really great and funny and dangerous film about Nazi Germany, but Ulli Lommel’s ADOLF AND MARLENE is nothing less of a masterpiece. This film needs to be discovered, it is as good if not better as the best Fassbinder films, I should add maybe that Rainer Werner Fassbinder produced this film and also has a starring role. Lommel himself appears as propaganda minister Joesph Goebbels and Margot Carstensen, the superstar of many great Fassbinder films, plays Marlene Dietrich, who has several scenes with Hitler, performed beautifully by Kurt Raab, in which she gives the Fuhrer hell. Michael Ballshaus did the camera work. Ballhaus later went to Hollywood and worked with Coppola, Mike Nichols and other greats. He also shot many awesome Fassbinder films, such as Chinese ROULETTE, in which Lommel plays a leading role and the newly restored WORLD ON A WIRE (also with Ulli Lommel as an investigative journalist). It’s very hard to get a DVD of this gem, but I saw it in Paris recently at the Cinemateque Francaise, and the 35mm print was pristine.
4. THE BOOGEYMAN
Vastly underrated, 1 April 2008
Author: kerryprez_04 from United States
Im surprised at the low rating (3.8/10). The movie was obviously done on a limited budget; Nevertheless,they did capture the mood for this classic horror flick. Read previous posts for details. They are fairly accurate. But, to truly appreciate this movie, you much watch it for yourself. The acting is on par with actors in bigger budget horror flicks of that time. It just goes to show you it’s all a matter of who you know in the biz and/or how big your pocketbook is. Personally, Im not much into horror, but this one truly peaked my interest. Definitely kept me on the edge of my seat thru a majority of the movie. Some scenes even had me turning away in shock. 8 out of 10 stars from me.
5. BLANK GENERATION
The ultimate pop-punk-Warhol experience, 29 March 2010
Author: normrinks from United States
Yeah, this is it! The ultimate pop-punk-Warhol experience. A wild love triangle, that was shot many years prior to SEX, LIES AND VIDEO TAPE and is much cooler and deeper. Carole Bouquet in the role of NADA LUMIERE is so sexy and cool, Richard Hell as BILLY is riveting, ULLI LOMMEL as Hoffritz is very funny and Andy Warhol as himself is the best! There is so much cool punk rock music in the film, the entire Blank Generation album, it’s a real treat, yeah. All the locations show Manhattan, especially SOHO and the Lower Eastside as they were rocking in the late 70s, and even the World Trade Center is in it in a very cool shot from the Staten Island Ferry. I had to order this DVD from Japan, where the movie is a big hit – those Japanese obviously know what’s good and cool, I was unable to score a new DVD here in the States, why is that? The producers should do a US release on this one, it’s obligatory, because there must be a zillion punk rock, 70s pop fans out there.
6. COCAINE COWBOYS
“We’re just Cocaine Cowboys”, 15 April 2006
Author: doublesharp_x from United States
This movie is awesome. I got it for a dollar at Fiesta. Its worth every cent and more. Andy Warhol’s performance was subtle, yet captivating. Jack Palance was his usual bad-ass guru self and the soundtrack brought me back to those hazy nights in East Timor. If you know where I can get the soundtrack, please post where. This is one of the great overlooked films from the late 70’s. It prefigures the post punk movement in its hedonistic display of fashion and drug consumption. Indeed, we are all just cocaine cowboys. The title of the movie is a summary of the times yet also an astute indictment. Andy Warhol is truly transcendent. His acne scars barely even show. If you say anything bad about this movie you don’t actually know what you’re talking about and you’re an ignorant unsophisticated dilettante.
The Ed Wood Effect, 3 July 2009
Author: hasosch from United States
“Brainwaves” is an excellent horror movie. Its story, dramaturgy, cinematography and acting – and thus the main branches of the requirements of film theory – are not only satisfactorily, but very well fulfilled. However, Ulli Lommel – to whom we owe, amongst many other movies, also the brilliant “Tenderness of the Wolves” (1973) with the unforgettable Kurti Raab in the main role – is unfortunately subject to what I call the “Ed Wood Effect”. This effect contains in blindly giving very low votes to a film director who once had the misfortune to become known as a B-picture maker.
In Ulli Lommel’s special case this Ed-Wood-Effect is the more astonishing as the B-pictures that he produced after “Bogeyman” (1979) are not worse than this movie which was a success around the world, although or because it was filmed in the style for which nowadays people like to criticize Lommel, i.e. the use of video cameras and the “journalistic” cinematography which imitates the eye movement of a visitor who would be by chance witness of the crime that is filmed. If Rosa Von Praunheim takes a video camera and walks around on the streets or in bars filming just what he sees, the voting of these products are in the average higher – probably because Von Praunheim’s topic is the gay-scene, and who would dare making respect-less comments against such a controversial topics without risking to get criticized not for his real critique but for his alleged attitude against a minority? As one can see, the Ed Wood effect implies that one measures with different measuring systems. To cite only one example: The “Underworld” movies are as silly as Lommel’s younger horror flicks – and not a iota better, although they are produced with a guessed amount of ten times as much money as Lommel’s productions. Perhaps one would achieve a juster judgment, if Ulli Lommel would release his older German movies – especially the wonderful “Adolf and Marlene” with Kurt Raab, Margit Cartensen, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and others – on DVD. But it also could be that even these movies would fall immediately under the spell of the Ed Wood Effect.
8. THE DEVONSVILLE TERROR
The Witches of Devonsville!, 12 November 2003
Author: Miyagis_Sweaty_wifebeater from Sacramento, CA
Ulli Lommel’s Devonsville Terror(1983) is a good modern day horror tale about witchcraft and a town’s dark past coming back for revenge. Sadly for the people of Devonsville, history does repeat itself. Three woman are drawn to this cow town for unknown reasons. One of them is a school teacher (Suzanna Love, despite her short ugly haircut still looks hot). The women’s reaction towards the sleazy male town folk doesn’t earn them any points, causing them to raise suspicion amongst them (like that squirly shop keeper had any chance with Suzanna Love!). That’s when the fun begins. This movie is one of those “you either love it or hate it” types. There is no fine line with this one. Recommended (depending on your taste of movies). Ms. Love co-wrote and produced as well.
P.S. This movie has some nice gory set pieces.
9. ABSOLUTE EVIL
Carradine’s best since Kill Bill, 14 February 2009
Author: Steamroller_Blues from Germany
Absolute Evil is Carradine’s best film since Kill Bill. And that is strange, because Absolute Evil is very much along the lines of Tarentino’s narrative. The good becomes the bad and the bad turns good. Evil is a complex force in this fascinating twist of film noir and horror film and suspense thriller. The film itself is a love declaration to the horror genre, and pumps new life in it. And Ulli Lommel, who also wrote and directed, is terrific as the Private Eye that tortures a killer. The film is short and sweet. 80 minutes of inspired suspense, and a total departure from Lommel’s previous low-budget true-crime horror flicks.
10. CHINESE ROULETTE
A manual on how not to live, 24 May 2009
Author: scrumptiously from United Kingdom
Chinese Roulette is about a marriage. An upper class couple split up for the weekend, each has told lies to the other regarding their destination, however both end up at the same destination with lovers in tow, the schloss in the countryside. This has been carefully machinated by their young disabled daughter who has known of the affairs of her parents for many years.
The scene where Herr Christ and lover walk in on Madame Christ and lover is pretty good, there’s initial shock, then they manage to dissociate from their roles and have a good chuckle about it together. Thus begins the weekend.
The daughter arrives and insists on a game of Chinese Roulette, this is an interesting little game. You get two teams of four people, the first team picks a person from the other in a secret conclave. The second team then has to guess who is the person in their team who has been chosen by asking nine questions, of the form, “if this person was a magazine, which magazine would they be?”. Anyway the game gets pretty cruel if you want to play it that way, “Which would be the most fitting method of execution for the person in question” for example. You could find titillation in the game by praising someone without them knowing who you are referring to or dark joy in deeply insulting them.
The daughter has arranged it all to grind the adults down. I suppose if there is one message of the film it’s that if you breed adders you shouldn’t be surprised if they grow up and eat you. The couple have clearly not provided for their daughter (other than materially speaking – she has whatever she wants, chocolates dolls, pretty dresses &c).
The game is an exercise in cruelty, a couple of the answers being pretty good. However there is a lot of insecurity, everyone is wondering if the person who is being described as an apple with a worm inside it is them, furthermore the person answering the question is often blatantly prejudiced and is not understanding the person they are speaking about.
There are some pretty bizarre things going on, the butler-type Gabriel writes unsound doggerel and reads it aloud to the couples (previously only one couple at a time). There are references to a character we never see, strange complicities, unexplained relationships.
One thing you can say though is that the movie is shot brilliantly, there are some wonderful circular shots (trademark of Scorsese and Fassbinder regular collaborator Michael Ballhaus) where the camera orbits the characters, lots of shots of people reflected off glass or cut in two by doorways, some exquisite framing. Perhaps the most exquisite movie I’ve seen in visual terms. The score too is of a very high calibre.
I take it as a pretty mystical film, one scene that is great is the daughter sat in her bed talking to Gabriel, the camera is at floor level just behind a row of the dolls which she has arranged as a kind of adoring audience for her. You feel like one of the dolls really, it’s quite strange. Certainly Fassbinder is railing against certain bourgeois modes here. The characters are isolated by their feelings of self-worth, their deceptions, their victim status, and their sharp tongues, there’s no love anywhere. In every relationship in the movie I felt as if it were one possessing the other, as if a trinket.
It’s nastiness all around, almost an exercise in misanthropy, another reviewer referred to it as an exercise in deception as a survival tactic. I recently titled a review of mine, “A manual on how to live”, well this really is “A manual on how not to live”. It’s as disparaging to victims as to victimisers. One of Fassbinder’s other movies was called Satan’s Brew and I really think this one could have been as well.