I don’t know what astrologers will make of it, but 65 years ago today, a German infant in Dusseldorf and a relatively poor not-black child in Waco, were born.
One became one of the most influential and popular serious film makers of his time. Here’s a moment from probably my second favorite film of my least favorite movie decade, “Wings of Desire” starring Bruno Ganz as an angel who envies us mortals.
Today’s other birthday boy became a rather talented comedian, writer, and actor and a bit underrated at all of it.
A confession: I’ve never seen “The Jerk.” Another one for the Netflix queue.
The Weathermen and the Black Panthers terrified many in America’s “silent majority” of the 60s and 70s and, of course, resurfaced as right-wing bogeymen during the 2008 election. Still, our relatively timid terrorists were complete pantywaists compared to the vastly more deadly, focused, and entirely co-ed German Baader Meinhof gang. This grimly disciplined, ideologically inflexible group of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist “New Left” ideologues was not about “palling around” with anyone.
Directed by Uli Edel and with a sharp screenplay co-written by producer Bernd Eichinger, “The Baader Meinhof Complex” takes a similar approach as Eichinger’s previous historical work as a writer-producer, “Downfall” — now famed as the source of all those Internet videos featuring Hitler (Bruno Ganz) ranting in his bunker about video games, ‘net problems, and the like. Ganz is back in a far kinder and gentler role as the keenly intelligent head of the German police tasked with capturing the gang. Still, this is a true ensemble piece as Martina Gedick, Moritz Bleibtrau, Johana Wokalek and others portray the nucleus of the so-called “Red Army Faction,” whose attempt to spark a revolution while protesting the Vietnam War and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians starts at bank robbing and takes increasingly murderous turns from there. Eichinger and Edel’s historical epic starts somewhat slowly, but at more than 2 1/2 hours, this Oscar-nominated combination of documentary ultra-realism a la “The Battle of Algiers” with Paul Greengrass-style slam-bam action film makes for a bracing work.
Yes, this avid and genetically predisposed consumer of matzoh balls and knishes knows a strong argument when he hears it. And, while I usually like to consider the source, as the saying goes, even a racist genocidal maniac is right two times a century, or something like that.
Anyhow, in case you haven’t heard about it yet, Constantin Films, the company that released the excellent historical drama, “Downfall,” has been going after those often extremely funny videos drawn from that film in which the great German actor Bruno Ganz as Hitler reacts — as only a fascist with serious, serious anger issues really can — to all kinds of pop cultural events. PopEater summarizes the situation quite nicely.
Of course, we’ve already seen the inevitable meta-rants in which Hitler complains about all those videos of him saying stuff he surely would never say and caring about things he would never care about. Yesterday, the usually very cool Karina Longworth was apparently so tired of this ‘net meme that she all but sided with that particular “Downfall” Hitler and the cutting-nose-to-spite-face tactics of Constantin.
Anyhow, today she returned to form and saw the sweet reason of an argument posed by, of course, Adolph Hitler, who really describes the situation far better than I can. Let’s see how long it stays up. (I’m hoping they’ll keep the audio up at least.)
I’m sorry, but at least 50% of these make me laugh quite a bit. Guess I’m a sucker for a Hitler joke.