The fall from Metropolis to faux-cyberpunk Berlin, the Postmodern situation. The New World Order has a metallic patina, Germany circa 1989 is the superpower where every problem from alcohol to pollution has been airbrushed and mega-corporate monopolies reign supreme. Creativity breaks the law under totalitarian rule, a plot to bomb the conglomerate headquarters gets the police lieutenant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) out of the discotheque and on the case. Marathon giggling contests on the telly, suicides written off as "accidental deaths" (a typically deadpan report: "Overdose. Too much sugar in his dreams"), such are the component parts of Wolf Gremm’s future-noir vaudeville. An elevator between floors reveals the conspirators’ hideout, though not before Franco Nero turns up in faded fatigues and glasses with one single black lens, possibly to ask his co-star why they’re not filming Querelle. ("Please avoid all superfluous explanations" is the inspector’s byword, not an unreasonable attitude in the face of such frenetic clutter.) To adjust Dr. Mabuse for the gaudy early Eighties is to inevitably pass through Godard’s Alphaville and Fassbinder’s World on a Wire, and here’s Fassbinder himself on the screen mocking the results, like a puffy Tartar warrior swelling around in leopard bathrobes over tangerine vaquero shirts. The jumbled mise en scène of peeling paint and blasting phosphorescence, complete with rooftop chases and a computer with a nasty cough, has at least the decency to close on a wunderkind’s perverse, lopsided smile. Seth B. and Beth B. that same year show how it's done in Vortex, Kelly’s Southland Tales comes along in due time. With Günther Kaufmann, Boy Gobert, Arnold Marquis, Richy Müller, Nicole Heesters, Brigitte Mira, Hans Wyprächtiger, and Petra Jokisch.
--- Fernando F. Croce