Caught in a Web: The Virtual Reality of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World On A Wire

Dr. Fred Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch, left) and his secretary Gloria Fromm (Barbara Valentin, right).

‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ the British band Queen asked at the beginning of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Freddie Mercury’s legendary opus magnum. A similar question has also been posed in the realm of cinema several times. What’s real and what’s a dream or, in the case of modern technology, a computer simulation? The most prominent films to deal with the matter of cyber universes are probably the Wachowskis’ The Matrix trilogy, but there have also been other noteworthy instances before.

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Dear Friends: The French Surprise Hit Intouchables, or a Unique and Charming Plea for Respect and Tolerance

Driss (Omar Sy, left) and Philippe (François Cluzet, right) race down the streets of Paris.

A big fuss has been made about Michel Hazanavicius’s French silent film The Artist winning Best Picture at the 2012 Academy Awards. Yes, it’s an aberration, since a non-Anglo-American movie winning the prestigious trophy usually only happens once in a blue moon. Roberto Benigni’s Italian Life Is Beautiful tried but failed against James Cameron’s Titanic in 1997. So the success of The Artist came as somewhat of a surprise, although it’s debatable if it was even the best French film of its class because of a little picture by the unknown duo of directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano.

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The Dark Side of the Moon: Timo Vuorensola’s Iron Sky, or the Return of the Sinister Space Nazis

Obersturmbannführer Klaus Adler (Götz Otto, left) and Renate Richter (Julia Dietze, right), the future power couple of the Space Nazis.

Imagine what would happen if the Nazis had managed to build a spacecraft and rescued their remaining party soldiers to the dark side of the moon. An absurd and ludicrous premise, sure, but the international production Iron Sky is willing to make it. The intriguing independent movie caused a sensation when the first trailers spread around the virtual world. It almost became a cult classic among the online community even before its official theatrical release in the spring of 2012.

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