(fr) wrote: This movie...makes virtually no sense. i mean not just with the time travel, the whole destroying the world business and the card game, oh dear god the card game. but all that aside they set up this whole thing where duel monsters apparently destroy the world and the villain apparently travels back in time to prevent this by well, murdering innocent people & you guessed it! challenging the protagonists to a children's card game...how hypocritical. jesus, and i thought the actual card game was confusing.
(gb) wrote: 3.5 Stars out of 4 You wouldn't think by its title but "Beware of A Holy Whore" is a movie about making movies. I'm sorry, say that title again? "Beware of A Holy Whore". Gotcha. But what is "holy" and who is the "whore"? Well, the film is directed by German avant-garde, melodramatist filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder who is known for other films entitled "Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven" and "In a Year with 13 Moons" so he has a record. But "holy" could be the divine, spiritual-inspiring art of film and the "whore" could be the miscreants working on the project. Or the "whore" is film, that dreadful and tedious way of making money, and "holy" are the people, the martyrs behind the camera. Who knows. You see, this is a very difficult film to argue worth seeing (and especially to praise) because it involves a lot of boring, dead pan people sitting around (and sometimes standing up) trying to make a movie and talking about sex, love, politics, and movies while never really participating in any of that. But refrain, director Fassbinder avoids from having the slow film spin its wheels as Beware of a Holy Whore ponders an existence, one that unfolds naturally but aimlessly through an A-quality soundtrack, a tracking camera, and curious set pieces. We are confronted at first by photographer Deiters (famous filmmaker Werner Schroeter, who I had the privilege of meeting at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008) as he delivers a monologue so mystifying I will describe but scarcely explain it. Deiters talks of a Wee Willy and Disney's Goofy and his parenting of the other character. The tale ends in abrupt anticlimax, eliciting key themes on self-doubt, longing, and cruelty that seem to echo throughout Holy Whore. Then, we arrive at a house in Spain where the camera men and actors gather like geese in a desert: they are eager to flock about and get to work but there's nothing to do and nowhere to go. They await on director Jeff (Lou Castle) a pretty boy who is so uncertain of how to convey his vision it is frustrating. He has a story he wants to express, one involving a karate chop kill by American actor Eddie Constantine (playing himself). Jeff's brooding, genius, and homoerotic ways (and his wearing of a leather jacket) reflect Fassbinder himself, an openly-gay filmmaker interested in rearranging the conventions through the New Wave of an artless Germany. The stout, round-faced, and stubborn-eyed Fassbinder plays a role too, as a crewman named Sacha who is, ironically, the most heterosexual of all the characters (Fassbinder was openly gay). And there are many characters to be introduced to, as Holy Whore is an ensemble piece and considered one of Fassbinder's most accomplished cast. It is hard to believe such a thing when most of the cast sits around without a whip of emotion. They talk quite often but the dialogue is more satirical and meant to convey an idea or joke that attacks fascism to sexuality. Holy Whore is a challenging film to watch because it is detached. Fassbinder is an artist who is so talented that he demands his audience to adjust to his world instead of just dropping by for a quick stay. Some may first call Fassbinder's films "dull" and "unexciting" but it is about looking closer and realizing this filmmaker's masterful control of pace, simply wielded by the camera. Holy Whore is detached but with great purpose. Fassbinder glides around his environment, tracking past characters but never cutting in for their point of view. We watch and unwittingly penetrate a lifestyle about sitting around and doing nothing but thinking about a lot. These people are not just filming in Spain but are like exiles from Germany, trying to find their way and construct a creation in an unknown place. While the characters wander Fassbinder's camera follows them in circles, astutely forming a tension of the inert. The camera is looking for something, a meaning, but it keeps circling dead ends. On another and lighter note, Holy Whore has a fascinating array of music. From using Fassbinder's usual composer Peer Raben to songs by Leonard Cohen, Ray Charles, and Elvis Presley Fassbinder's film finds an energy that keeps pushing the action forward when it seems the characters of incapable of doing such a thing. Somehow Fassbinder avoids fracturing tone and allows the music to envelop odd, unfathomable dimensions of emotion denied by the characters but invited in by the photogenic scenery. Much of Holy Whore is a painting too, where the characters stand still and blend into their surroundings, becoming just as invaluable as objects. Most of these characters, like a painting, are pretty but also very timid. They don't know how to achieve progress, until maybe the end where there is some lights, camera, action. French auteur Francois Truffaut once said - and I paraphrase - that film should be made with joy or utter agony, and nothing in between. I am not sure whether these characters in Holy Whore partook in a making of cinema that was joyful or agonizing. I'm also not sure if I can declare their experience as somewhere "in between." Holy Whore analyzes a world that happens to be involved with filmmakers and actors and wonders what the hell to do with them. Little pain or happiness is expressed but you get the sense something could be accomplished. Or not. I saw this film in Toronto and it was selected by Canadian director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Chloe), along with Fellini's 81/2, which preceded this. I can see the clear similarity, and the important difference. The similarity is both are about the frustration of making a film and being constantly creative in the process. The essential contrast is how that frustration is conveyed. Fellini forayed into the passion, hate, dreams, and fears a filmmaker had on women and how he was always influenced by them and persuaded - through stimulation - out of his artistic mindset. Holy Whore is about frustration, yes, but that horrendous feeling of not being able to reach out and grasp that very bewilderment. Sure enough the film is frustrating itself, but also funny and delightful. I guess.