(Rainer Werner Fassbinder; Germany; 1973)
Unbelievable. Fassbinder welds his aesthetic to the sci-fi genre, and comes up with a pulsating gem that not only pre-dates the likes of The Matrix by over 25 years, but even completely outsmarts and outclasses it. Despite being made in 1973, the theme of the conflict between a virtual world and the real world makes this film poignant and relevant in our current digitally-inflected age.
Fassbinder throws in all his familiar stylistic tropes, but playing within the sci-fi genre seems to have allowed him to amplify his key signatures. His Sirkian-inspired recourse to melodrama appears often, especially as the film picks up speed, and creates some wonderful moments of ironic ham.
Stunning camera-work, fluid and circulating around characters as if trying to assess or ensnare them. Mirrors and reflections seems to be in nearly every shot, nicely alluding to multiple worlds and elusive identities. Lovely little nod towards Alphaville, with Eddie Constantine entering the film briefly, as if the skin of Godard's film has ruptured and broken into Fassbinder's film. All in all, a superb film-going experience that makes you feel lucky to be a cinephile.