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  Kamikaze 1989 Rainer On His Parade
Year: 1982
Director: Wolf Gremm
Stars: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Günther Kaufmann, Boy Gobert, Arnold Marquis, Richy Müller, Nicole Heesters, Brigitte Mira, Jörg Holm, Hans Wyprächtiger, Petra Jokisch, Andreas Mannkopf, Ute Koske, Frank Ripploh, Hans-Eckart Eckhardt, Christoph Baumann
Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1989 and Germany is the most prosperous nation on Planet Earth, with no social problems, guaranteed peace, plenty for all, wonderful dreams and no murder or suicide, with all the media controlled by one organisation called The Combine. But are things as quite as settled as the authorities would like the population to believe? What if, say, at the headquarters of The Combine a bomb threat had been called in? Obviously, they are not going to report this to the public, but they do need to act, so detective Jansen (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) is brought in to get to work and find out where the bomb is specifically, and who would do such a thing to them in the first place...

Alphaville, Jean-Luc Godard's science fiction cult flick, is a lot more influential than his detractors may allow, though when much of what it most blatantly influenced has been a series of equally low budget thrillers with a weird sense of humour and plots that gradually dissolve over the course of the running time, then maybe that is not such a proud boast. Co-writer and director Wolf Gremm served up this adaptation of Per Wahlöö’s novel with so many wacky trappings that it might have been best not to recommend this to the fans of the writer (whose detective character Beck spawned a long-running Scandi-noir television series quite some time after his premature demise).

Kamikaze 1989 was not best remembered, if it was remembered at all, for its source material, it was the star who drew the interest, for he was filmmaker Fassbinder in a film that was released after he had died, even more prematurely, of a drugs overdose (while watching TV!). He still had his own last film at the helm to release, Querelle, so prolific was he, and though he was a controversial character, deliberately so, nevertheless his fans felt his loss as it seemed that no matter how many films he had produced in his career, there would still have been more to come had he lived. One wonders if he would be amused by the reaction to audiences watching him lounge around in this little item.

Lounging around, lest we forget, in a leopardskin suit and a shocking pink shirt, overweight to the degree that when called on to perform an action scene (which happens more than once in this), viewers of a certain vintage may be reminded of the seventies cop TV show Cannon, whose star was able to keep up with criminals half his age despite his girth. The whole film comes across like a put-on, a pantomime where only the participants get the jokes, clearly low budget but making up for that with kitschy, gaudy design across the board, from the costumes to the set dressing. Aficionados of Fassbinder may be able to recognise some of his co-stars here, numbering as they did performers who had appeared in his own, self-directed fare, and the feeling of deep self-indulgence was never far away.

But this was a detective story, right? A mystery? So why was it so difficult to keep up with the clues that Jansen uncovers, to the extent that the entire plot made little to no sense? There were plenty of things for the hero to expose, such as corruption and secrets, but none of them seemed to amount to very much - even the bomb may not exist and could be a figment of someone's imagination. What kept you watching, if indeed you did keep watching, was the project's self-amusement which for the fans could be infectious, though if you were not one of the in crowd of followers of Fassbinder you could well understand why this would turn into a chore. With the "in the know" tone that can be grating when they prefer most others watching to be the opposite, there was a ridiculous quality that was partly a parody and partly trying on a counterculture attitude, almost punk, though that ship had sailed by 1982. Strangely compelling it may be, but a mess it was undoubtedly also. Music by Edgar Froese.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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