Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Run Lola Run (1998)

#40: Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998)

Run Lola Run tends to get dismissed in some quarters as being little more than a music video. It's true that it's saturated with garish New Wave primary colors and a pulsing techno soundtrack. But director/soundtrack man Tom Tykwer deploys his frenetics well, and if it's a music video (which I doubt, because I don't like music videos), it's also one that offers an audaciously profound meditation on time, death, love, and morality. The sheer kinetics of it sometimes seem capable of carrying off positively anything as we find ourselves running alongside the Lola of the title (played with neat economy in a great performance by Franka Potente), whose moped has been stolen and whose boyfriend needs saving.

Everything here comes in twos and threes, as a kind of three-part mini-Groundhog Day suite unfolds across parallel time streams. It reads like a comic book narrative in many ways (and I mean that as a good thing), proceeding panel by panel. Practically every person and every event seen once will be seen again—incidental characters and their ultimate fates appear very differently as their individualized contexts are constructed and unpacked and played out repeatedly, glancing off like figurative rays of light even as the central 20-minute arc moves through its paces.

Flashy and short as it is, a mere 81 minutes, it is also dense and thorny, with some very hard questions even as plot points run off toward ever-shifting horizons at a dizzying pace, making it almost too tempting, particularly by the third act, to try to stop and think about it and rationalize it through, figure out the various implications, morals, etc.—heck, even the basic shared reality. But don't bother. Understanding is a process of osmosis and in the meanwhile it's enough to just sit back and absorb the electric energy.

There is something tremendously exciting about the titles and beginning, so swift and sure of itself, setting the tone and terms and instantly raising the stakes sky high, and it only seems to grow on me more the more I see it—at this point it's practically my favorite opening of any picture, hence the nature of the video at the link. Part 2, if you are so inclined (and the entire movie as well), is available from there.

"Die Tasche!" "Die Tasche." "Die Tasche... Die Tasche!"

Phil #40: The China Syndrome (James Bridges, 1979) (scroll down)
Steven #40: The Rapture (Michael Tolkin, 1991)

This was the third title (and not the last) that I would manage to get to before Steven—as it would turn out, even though we often diverged on significant matters of taste (Pauline Kael, The Godfather: Part II, David Lynch, late Kubrick) nearly as often we converged. In the end we shared something like eight titles (for better or worse I usually got to them first, which only means maybe I underrated them). His pick here is one I missed but have always been curious about, and provides another reminder of one I have meant to bump up in my queue. For his part, it was slowly emerging that Phil was carefully juggling his list and working his picks exactly to avoid such repetitions. This caused a few interesting problems, which we will be getting to.

I had already written about Run Lola Run here—it's a movie I have loved since first seeing it when it was new. But tracking down a video for it somehow only intensified my appreciation. I finally settled on the opening 10 minutes and found myself absolutely mesmerized, staying up late and playing it over and over the night before I published this write-up, just relishing the pure sensations and the energy of it ("Here we go!"). Awp, I'm doing it again. I might want to put it a little higher on another list, but I don't know about that. Seems right here.


  1. It's amazing that a film which repeats itself three times would be so irresistible, you want to watch it again as soon as it ends.

  2. I'd forgotten about this movie until today....loved it and plan to watch again soon.