The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Daniel Schmid Day


‘The Swiss-born film and opera director Daniel Schmid, who has died of cancer aged 64, was a member of the self-destructive group of people who surrounded the German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder throughout the 1970s. It was really only after Fassbinder’s death, from an overdose of cocaine and sleeping pills in 1982, that Schmid became recognised as an artist in his own right.

‘Although they shared a fascination for kitsch and an admiration for the Hollywood melodramas of Douglas Sirk, Schmid, unlike Fassbinder, had little interest in realism, or in his own time. This curious mixture of a baroque sensibility and radical aesthetics, which allied him to the new German cinema – especially that of the high camp works of Werner Schroeter and Rosa von Praunheim – marked his style. His love of ritual and artifice was used in his films as an acute reflection on art, and its illusions and delusions. “I believe that people have a need for mythical forms, mysterious images, atavistic fairy tales, and magical symbols that take them back to the hidden memories of their childhood and their culture,” he said.

‘Schmid and Fassbinder first met in Berlin in 1966, when they were both taking the school entrance examination for the German Film and Television Academy. They briefly became lovers, and afterwards remained close friends. In fact, Schmid accompanied Fassbinder and his wife, the cabaret singer Ingrid Caven, on their honeymoon to Rome in August 1970. “I was still in my 20s. It was before Aids. I was in love with everyone. With Rainer and Ingrid too. It amused Rainer to be with his ex-lover and bride in a hotel room.” (The unconsummated marriage lasted two years.)

‘Schmid’s first four features starred Caven, who had already appeared in four of Fassbinder’s films. The first, Tonight or Never (1972), is a satiric parable set in the 19th century, in which, for one night of the year, an aristocratic Austrian family exchanges roles with their servants. A troupe of actors, hired to entertain the guests, performing fragments from the “cultural scrapheap”: scenes from Gone With the Wind, Madame Bovary, Swan Lake, operatic arias and pop music, incite the servants to revolt.

‘In the stylishly decadent La Paloma (1974), Caven plays a Dietrich-like chanteuse called Viola Schlump, wasting away until she marries a rich man whom she treats badly because she has stopped believing in love. As the critic of Time magazine wrote: “It is a wonderful shotgun wedding of movie mythology, bad taste, obsessive romanticism and impudent satire.”

‘After Fassbinder’s play The Garbage, the City and Death, was banned in Germany because of its perceived anti-semitism, Schmid adapted it for the screen as Shadow of Angels (1976) with Fassbinder as producer and actor, playing the role of a pimp. The story concerns Lily Brest (Caven), a destitute prostitute who is saved by her marriage to a character merely called the Rich Jew. “I’ve always understood it as a strange, sad fairy tale,” Schmid commented. “It’s also a movie about Germany after the Holocaust, and I think the reason Fassbinder wanted me to adapt the play for the screen was that I was not German. He said he was too close to the whole thing.”

‘Schmid, who was proudly Swiss, was born the scion of a wealthy Swiss-Jewish family of hoteliers in the mountain resort of Flims-Waldhaus. Some of his experiences growing up in an hotel were recaptured in Off Season (1992), a reflection on childhood, dreams and expectations. “There is nothing as empty as an empty hotel,” he remarked. He moved to Berlin in 1962 to study history and literature at the Free University before entering the film academy, and for a time shared an apartment with Andreas Baader, later the leader of the urban guerrilla group, the Red Army Faction.

‘Schmid himself always expressed an aversion to all ideologies, although many of his films are implicit critiques of bourgeois society. Violanta (1977), which dealt with an incestuous brother-sister relationship, starred Caven, Lucia Bosé, Maria Schneider and Bulle Ogier. “To me, cinema has always meant beautiful women. I think women are better adapted to conveying emotions via the film medium,” Schmid said.

‘It was inevitable that his love of opera – and the operatic nature of his films – would lead him to direct in the medium. Among his acclaimed productions, variously in Geneva and Zurich, were Alban Berg’s Lulu (1985), Rossini’s William Tell (1988), Bellini’s I Puritani (1995) and Linda di Chamounix (1996), Verdi’s Il Trovatore (1996) and Donizetti’s Beatrice di Tenda (2002).

‘After The Written Face (1995), a beautiful and profound documentary on Japanese theatre, Schmid made Beresina or The Last Days of Switzerland (1999), a black comedy about a Russian prostitute who dreams of a “fairytale” Switzerland, only to be confronted by the reality. It was his final film, although he was preparing Portovero, an enticing thriller in which a man has a relationship with two women who may be look-alikes, twins, or one woman with two identities.

‘In 1984 he made the affectionate documentary Tosca’s Kiss, shot in the Casa Verdi, a Milanese home for retired opera singers, in which several of the residents reminisce and sometimes sing.

‘For many years, Schmid, who was nicknamed the Aunt among Fassbinder’s entourage, lived with Raul Gimenez, the Argentinean production designer on all his films, who died of AIDS in 1994 aged 44.’ — Ronald Bergan





Daniel Schmid Official Website
Daniel Schmid @ IMDb
Daniel Schmid: The fleeting days and eternal nights of R.W. Fassbinder
Apropos: Daniel Schmid by Gary Indiana
“Daniel SCHMID, le chat qui pense”… et l’albatros des Grisons
Book: A Smuggler’s Life: Daniel Schmid
Une promesse faite à Daniel Schmid
Daniel Schmid (Le chat qui pense) de Pascal Hofmann et Benny Jaberg
Portrait en son absence
Daniel Schmid @ letterboxd
La disparition de Daniel Schmid suscite l’émotion et les larmes à Locarno
Daniel Schmid obit



In Memoriam Daniel Schmid (2010) de Gérard Courant

À l’occasion de la présentation le 6 juin 2010 au Centre Culturel Suisse de Paris du film “Daniel Schmid le chat qui pense”, réalisé par deux jeunes cinéastes helvétiques, Pascal Hofmann et Benny Jaberg, Gérard Courant a filmé la discussion qui s’en suivit et qui réunissait les comédiennes Ingrid Caven et Bulle Ogier, le directeur de la photo Renato Berta, le producteur Marcel Hoehn, l’écrivain Stefan Zweifel et le l’exploitant de salles This Brunner.


from BOMB


Daniel Schmid When I talk about someone else, I talk about me, at a certain moment. If you tell me something about somebody, you tell me much more about you, than about the person. It should be like this, also, no? I mean, not in the sense of a constant radio program, which is sometimes quite tiring for other people—the danger is that those people who have their radio stations always on themselves, in this exhibitionistic way, get a little bit boring because they cannot receive, which means they never listen to other radio stations. They don’t support other radio stations, no? Isn’t this an experience you also have?

Gary Indiana Oh, all the time. But today is dedicated to Radio Daniel Schmid, (instead of me asking Daniel Schmid questions about Radio Werner Schroeter or Radio Ingrid Caven.) And I’ll ask you first about this film Miriam, which is listed in the catalogue of this Swiss Film Week, and which I’ve never heard of, Daniel.

DS Well, me too, actually. I never heard of it—I mean, I haven’t heard of it in 12 years. This has to do with a particularly German punctuality and bureaucracy, because I think it slipped in through all those cultural functionaries who are all the time in contact with each other, because what else do they have to do, instead of taking care of us—so some people of the Deutsche Filme Akadamie, I’m sure, do this very exact biography of people. This was a seven-minute try-out with a camera in the first year of film school. That’s all. It’s a seven-minute thing and I forgot completely, because while I went to film school I also did small movies in television, ten-minute things; with Rosa von Praunheim, we did a little movie about Samuel Beckett, which was Samuel Beckett walking in Berlin from the place where he was sleeping to the rehearsal of a play of his; we stayed on the same bridge for a fortnight filming Samuel Beckett walking by. In general the television didn’t accept those things afterwards. I never regarded them as that important. So Miriam slipped in through some German spy files. I don’t know if it even still exists, no idea.

GI What was the first real film?

DS Do Everything In The Dark. It’s a kind of invented documentary fiction about the last servant school in Europe, in Italy; you know, before the first world war there were millions of servants and butlers …

GI There’s a Walser novel about a servant school, Jakob von Gunten.

DS Yes, right, there’s a Walser novel; and there’s this wonderful thing by Jonathan Swift, Advice to Servants, that I took the title from; this got published in London in the 18th century. It has all these things like, “Never use your own knife, use the knife of your master, because your own knife you might use one day,” “Do everything in the dark, to save up the light of your master …” There’s a double sense to all of it, it came out and was quite a fashionable thing for one season in London, but of course it was never read by the people he gave this advice to because they couldn’t read. It was only the upper class that delighted in reading about how they should get killed by their servants. I shot it in Venice in five days, with Igor (Joczka), and with all these strange people I met there. An old mistress of Mussolini, and Principessa Cinni, the mother of this romantic figure in the ’40s who was so much in love with Merle Oberon that he flew over her house in Cap d’Antibes and every day threw thousands of roses down to her, and one day the plane crashed. People like that are in this movie.

GI The movie after that is about servants, too.

DS It’s about servants too, but it’s about master servant relationships. Tonight or Never. This is more a kind of definition—this is when I seriously thought I’d do movies. Because the climate in the early ’70s for this whole group we were somehow forming—Werner Schroeter, Rainer Fassbinder, all these people—at this time everybody was into political films, engaged films; and at this time everybody kind of looked at us like fascists. Or like completely useless. That was a time when I said, finally, “I want to do movies that are completely inutile and inoubliable”—what is it?

GI Useless and unforgettable.

DS Exactly. This was the period of this sozialekitsch, I would say, when all these bourgeoise people and intellectual people in Europe began taking care of the factory workers, without ever having spent one evening with a factory worker; it’s very far away now. I wanted to do a statement about how I would define my role in society. And it’s the classical old thing of the comedians, the clowns, the buffones, who are not really important; because we don’t change the world, we change nothing, the most you can do with a movie is to irritate; it’s an old, old thing, that if you overrate and overvalue things—these people who do movies and expect it to change people’s lives; in Tonight or Never I did a story about the role of these buffoons; a rich woman gives an invitation for them to come and for one night switch roles. Which in the Esterhazy family, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in Prague, they had this custom. Once a year on this special day the masters were serving the servants and the servants became the masters. This is a kind of parable. So in the film I introduced a group of comedians who come to the house the night they switch roles and perform highlights from the summer sell-out of 19th-century culture, from La Traviata to Madame Bovary to the last scene of Gone With the Wind. Then one of the performers steps out and asks for the revolution, and that’s the top number of the cabaret, because the audience is very amused about it. He asks suddenly for the revolution and makes a revolutionary speech, telling how sick it is, this position, the servants letting themselves be driven by the masters, of course it’s a cabaret act, he’s paid for it, and he says all this bullshit, “I would like to recite and play in Nature, outside where it’s free and not in this bourgeois house”—as much nonsense as the rest, you know? And, of course, the comedians are paid by the masters, who play the servants and are also the only ones who enjoy this sophisticated number, because the servants don’t understand it. At the end of the night everybody goes back to his initial place. I like that with movies, you can do it so that everything is in a second, that the way it begins, it ends—because where are the ends in life? There is never an end, the end is in general mediocre, but these gorgeous theatrical endings we all dream of—it doesn’t occur, actually, La Paloma starts in a nightclub and ends in a nightclub, and it’s all in a second, where someone imagines on somebody a whole story—this I like, that you come back to the beginning. In Tonight or Never the first shot is the same as the last shot.

GI I was confused by La Paloma because it only becomes a hallucination at the very end.

DS Because you don’t expect it any more, you go so much into this story with this guy, by the very end you forget that it’s only a kaleidoscope. Then suddenly you come back, and, logically, you see the same five shots that the movie begins with.

GI Hecate is the same way.

DS Yes. It all takes place in a glass of champagne.

GI Now that I’ve seen Shadow of Angels I can see some consistencies. One thing I always remembered from La Paloma was that Bulle Ogier was the mother, who was, oddly, the same age or younger than her son—

DS But it didn’t bother anybody, you know. And we have this strange thing also, that Bulle talks French and he talks German, they have all these dialogues; because Peter (Kern) in life cannot speak French, and she doesn’t speak one word of German. First the producers were shocked, and I said, “You will see,” and no one protested. Strange. And the public also accepted her as the mother. You can do anything. I think so.

GI I was thinking of Shadow of Angels—the dwarf is actually the tallest person in the movie and is always referred to as the dwarf.

DS And the Jew is the kind of incarnation of the classical blond Aryan German Nazi officer, and the fascist looks like a Jewish caricature, the German looks like a German Communist, the mother looks like Greta Garbo on acid, and Mr. Mueller, the real fascist who killed people, the SS guy, is a female impersonator who instead of going to South America with a ticket paid by the American CIA, like they did with this guy in France, Barbie, instead of disappearing to South America with CIA help he becomes a female impersonator in postwar Germany and only goes out at night to sing.

GI That just reminded me of something really strange. We were in your living room a few months ago watching Barbie arrive from South America and then you switched the station and there were all these drag queens in a nightclub.

DS Right. Mr. and Mrs. Mueller, the German father and mother. Shadow of Angels is a very German movie. I think that’s why Rainer, after he wrote the play, said “You should do the movie, because you’re not that much involved.” Because the Germans have one big problem—and it’s more than this political problem. It’s that for centuries when there was all this national feeling in England and France, all over, Germany didn’t have it, because it was split up into thousands of little countries; they had it much too late, in the 19th century, that’s why they got into this imperial disaster with the First World War, that’s where the tragedy started. And they have a strange thing, Germans, they have, I think, an absolutely unsolved father complex, they have an Oedipal story that’s very very strange. And of course Shadow of Angels is also about this daughter-father relationship, of this generation—of the Meinhof group, if you want, Hitler’s children. Among other things. But these are also the things that are kind of outside of it. When I read it as a play, and then we began to work on it as a script, we worked three months, I saw it always like a fairy tale—a chilling, but also romantic, strange fairy tale, with this nearly Proustian relationship, somehow, but set in the late ’80s, you know? Where the only possible love couple in the film, the Jew and the prostitute, those two outcasts—who know, but they know also they’re in this system. And when they go to the execution, actually, when she asks him to kill her, and he says, “We never listened to music with each other—” because he wants to stop her from going to her guillotine—because when she is gone, he won’t have anyone to talk to. And then no one will talk in the world anymore. Because it’s set in a world where, let’s say, all social problems have their solution. Everything is controlled, everybody’s in control, but no one has a solution for the fear problem. So actually it comes to a society where people aren’t even scared anymore. The only people who are scared, probably, are Lily and the Jew. They’re older than the others, they know. And they have these old-time morals, both, in a certain way—and they have this scene, when they’re driving in the car—I always saw it in this fairy tale way, when he says, “We never listened to music together,” and Ingrid (Caven) turns to him and says, “Music would have confused us,” and she takes his hand. And he says, “And who wants to be confused?” And she takes her hand away and says, “We all need songs that sing of love,”

GI And then she gets killed.

DS And then she gets killed. Of course it has political aspects, of course it has aspects of a possible psychological plot, if you think of someone who comes back to the country which killed his parents, comes back kind of looking for the murderer of his parents. And he finds him, but he doesn’t denounce him; he goes always to the nightclub, where the murderer of his parents is performing in drag, he takes his revenge through the daughter. The Jew is very open, he says, “I’m here, and the Mayor is my friend, the political people are my friends,” because he does business with the bad conscience of these people. Of the Germans. He knows, and he pushes it, also. But that’s not what Shadow of Angels is about.

GI I noticed that a lot of things in Shadow of Angels showed up again in In A Year of 13 Moons—for example, the verbalization of this idea that this person who is—

DS “Me is somebody else,” he says in German.

GI “Thank God that no one knows my name—”

DS “—is Rumpelstilskin.” And through the whole film goes this, “silently and very peacefully through my …” getmutlichkeit, it’s not soul, it’s not heart, it’s a word that only exists in German: “my inner constitution”—and through the film goes this little spring song, it was written by Mendelssohn, and the words are by Heinrich Heine, it’s a hundred percent Jewish product of the early 19th century, and it’s the most popular German folk song. Forbidden under Hitler. They forbade it, but they couldn’t, it went on, it was so much part of the German soul. That’s one of the main themes. Another is Zarah Leander—you know, the Germans are the most extreme people, for the good and the bad. They’re nuts. Goebbels in 1943 had this slogan, you know, “Do you want a total war?” and at the same time Zarah Leander did this movie where she was singing a song: “Because of that, the world doesn’t scramble, tomorrow the sun will shine again, and the sky will be Himmelblau!”—heavenly blue! And the bombs were falling on Leipzig, Hamburg, Berlin, and Dresden by then, and she was singing in waltz, you know.

GI Let’s talk about La Paloma and Hecate. They’re very similar in a funny way.

DS In a funny way, yes.

GI This obsession that a man has with this otherworldly creature.

DS But who doesn’t have those obsessions? Constantly in my life I’ve had obsessions about people and I always had this hard waking up finding that they were all the time only a kind of projection I had in a lonely dance around myself. Especially when I got emotionally involved with people. And I am somebody who projects a lot on people. I see somebody and I immediately imagine stories, and when it interferes emotionally you really get out of control with it. Because it’s nothing to do with reality, this person, this object you project on. So this is very familiar. In Hecate it’s very strong—the idea in that film, for me, was to tell the story of an attractive, intelligent, completely uninteresting person who gets interesting through a woman, through an imagination, through someone who also allows him, for a short while, to imagine, for six weeks, a crazy story. Then he goes back into his mediocrity, but once in his life he was alive. And that’s wonderful, most people are never alive. It’s wonderful to be, for some weeks, alive, even if you project in a desperate, completely wrong direction. I think so. Sometimes people say that’s sick, but what is sick?


9 of Daniel Schmid’s 16 films

Tonight or Never (1972)
‘A satire on 19th-century class relations that’s also a veiled commentary on the failure of the 1968 political revolution. Once a year, an aristocratic Austrian family holds a traditional feast at which masters and servants trade places. A troupe of actors are hired to entertain the guests.’ — MUBI



La Paloma (1974)
‘Nightclub singer La Paloma (Ingrid Cave) succumbs to the persistent courting of a chubby rich admirer (Peter Kern) and marries him. Before the marriage, she was thought to be dying, but soon she is well. She believes her husband’s love has cured her, but her efforts to love him die stillborn as she discovers true love with her husband’s old school friend (Peter Chatel). She plans to run off with the friend, but when those plans fall through she takes a series of various poisons and, wearing an uncanny kind of makeup, dies. Her last wish was to have her bones interred in a vase in her husband’s family crypt. To fulfill her wishes some years later, the husband opens her coffin and finds to his amazement that her body is as fresh as on the day she died. He lovingly hacks her into pieces so she will fit into the vase.’ — Unifrance


Bulle Ogier parle de Daniel Schmid et de sa participation à “La Paloma”


Shadow of Angels (1976)
‘SHADOW OF ANGELS is the film adaptation of R.W. Fassbinder’s last and most controversial play, “Garbage, the City, and Death,” which was banned in Germany. The story concerns Lily, a prostitute too beautiful to have clients and the real estate speculator she befriends. Lily is paid to listen to her customers’ despairing monologues about politics, power, corruption, and guilt. SHADOW OF ANGELS is quintessential Fassbinder, a fable about victims and victimizers and not so nascent neo-Nazi sympathies in post-war Germany.’ — rarefilmm


Watch the entirety on rarefilmm


Violanta (1977)
‘Maria Schneider, mist-soaked greenery, dark dank taverns, a hammered Gerard Depardieu, inventive visual use of a mountain lake, Lucia Bose gliding about in full operatic sinister diva mode, an overwhelming sense of isolation, Lou Castel’s confusing hairline, some nice supernatural touches and a Peer Raben score. It’s a damn fine oddity that blends Eurogothic tendencies, ETA Hoffman-esque pastoral paranormal, the borderline surreal conversational blocking found in Central and Eastern European TV plays of this era (and still found in Yorgos Lanthimos films) and bucolic nostalgia. So sit yourself down in a kiddie pool of melted cheese, blow your alphorn to alert the neighborhood to leave you alone for the next 90 minutes, stick a Ricola in the orifice of your choice and put this on.’ — Fnord



Hecate (1982)
”India Song’ and Somerset Maugham come together in ‘HECATE’, set amid the European community in an unspecified North African country, a colony on the verge of nationalism just before the war. And colonized is what happens to a French diplomat, Julien Rochelle, when he meets the mysterious beauty Clothilde de Watteville. Schmid ‘s favorite axiom, that love is projection, never had such a thorough airing. Is Clothilde (played by the American actress Lauren Hutton) really the wife of a French official now holed up in Siberia? Or is she Hecate, goddess of black magic and devourer of the Arab boys she meets far from the European quarter? Only our projections know for sure; for the rest, she is a “woman looking out into the night.” Drawn from a novel by Paul Morand, who based the main character on his wife Helene, Schmid’s film achieves an atmosphere of magic in which psychological credibility is not so much absent as irrelevant-a film that distances itself from the drama it invokes, perhaps as the elusive Clothilde turns her back on the madness she provokes.’ — Pacific Film Archive

Interview de Daniel SCHMID au sujet de son film “Hécate”


Tosca’s Kiss (1984)
‘Meet the inhabitants of the “Casa di Riposa” in Milan, the world’s first nursing home for retired opera singers, founded by composer Giuseppe Verdi in 1896. In his documentary Tosca’s Kiss, which has gained a cult following over the years and is a favorite among opera and music lovers worldwide, director Daniel Schmid has captured a world in which these wonderful singers (many of whom had significant careers on the opera stage) relive and reenact their triumphant roles of the glorious past. Tosca’s Kiss is a touching and often hilarious film on the subject of aging and the power and timeless capacity of music to inspire. With Sara Scuderi, Giovanni Puligheddu, Leonida Bellon, Salvatore Locapo, and Giuseppe Manacchini.’ — FSoLC




Les Amateurs (1991)
‘Using early family, tourist and publicity films (between 1905 and 1930), Schmid articulates the pleasures of filming – the play of amateurs, visiting Switzerland, both in front and behind the camera.’ —

Watch the entirety here


The Written Face (1995)
‘Daniel Schmid got to know Japan because his films are highly regarded by the Japanese and he was repeatedly invited to Japan over the years with his new films. After all those visits, he had brought a suitcase of images of Japan back with him, to put it in his own terms. In this film, he opens the suitcase. The film came about because a Japanese producer asked the Swiss film-maker to make a film in Japan. Das geschriebene Gesicht is about Schmid’s fascination with the classic Japanese Kabuki theatre and with one famous actor in particular, Tamasaburo Bando, who dedicated his whole life (his acting career started when he was five) to playing female roles. The form of the film is an intriguing combination of feature and documentary: reality, theatre and the dreams and fantasies of the film-maker are repeatedly mingled together. Schmid is obviously among the connoisseurs of Japan who argue that westerners will never penetrate the essence of Japanese culture. That is why he regards his film as more of an impressionist travelogue portraying Japan, than as a film essay about Kabuki theatre. Since Das geschriebene Gesicht could not be a film about Japan, about Kabuki or about Tamasaburo Bando, Schmid decided to make his film with Japanese, with kabuki actors and especially with Tamasaburo Bando. The result is a beautiful ode to what is incomprehensible in Japan.’ — IFFR



Beresina (or The Last Days of Switzerland) (1999)
‘Leading Swiss helmer Daniel Schmid applies his wicked sense of humor to the fatherland in “Beresina or the Last Days of Switzerland,” a rollicking socio-political farce that roasts just about everybody in a position of power. You don’t have to be Swiss to enjoy Schmid’s scathing indictment of corrupt stuffed shirts or to applaud the irresistible rise to power of a Russian call girl who just wants a Swiss passport.’ — Variety





p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, My pleasure. Yes, and there it is, right up there. Hope it’s worthy. ** JoeM, Hi. Oh, wow, that’s wild about Mad Magazine’s editor’s son publishing your novel. I’m impressed! Oh, I did read that Kelman novel. It was quite good, so the Booker is batting at least 1 in my park. Never got the appeal of Hollinghurst’s work whatsoever, but the gay lit crowd sure deifies his stuff. Is the George Wines novel you read the one he just finished? Privileged, if so. Well, if not too. ** _Black_Acrylic, Big good morning to you from there across the channel and also a fair amount of dry land, Ben. ** Jeff J, Hi. Cool, you found that comp. Nice, yeah? Some of the B-sides are so good. I’m particularly fond of ‘Pulsing Pulsing’. XTC were a ton of fun live. If you’ve seen live footage of them, say their stint in ‘Urrgh’ or other, you can see that Partridge was quite lively onstage, which is why his crippling stage fright thing was so surprising. Last malady I would have expected of him. I actually went to what ended up being their final gig in Hollywood, or rather would have been the final gig. After hours of waiting and delay, it was announced over the loud speakers they weren’t playing, and we all filed out, and I guess that was the night he had his big breakdown. Hope the Schmid Day is something of what you hoped. Rappaport’s great. No, strangely, I have never run into him here or been introduced or anything even though I think we must have been at some of the same screenings and things. I really should get in contact with him and have a coffee. I haven’t seen ‘Zombi Child’, but the friends of mine who did, and most of the critics here, said it was pretty bad. That’s all I know or remember at least. What did you think? ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Very good news! Keep it up! Or keep the lack of it up, I guess I mean? ** Right. Guessing many of you don’t know Daniel Schmid’s films. They’re strong, they’re things that are very good to know. Today I’m doing my part by forefronting them. I hope you will have the interest to acquaint yourselves, if you don’t know his films. There’s time, if you can spare it. See you tomorrow.


  1. JoeM

    Well Peter K is now some sort of psycho dream therapist. Typical Jew. And he’d love me for saying that! We had a lot of discussions along those lines. Joke Stereotypes. Jew Scot Catholic Queer, Americana….

    Yes the George Wines novel is the one he just done. I read it in bits so that was unusual.

    I read James’ Harlem Smoke in one go and didn’t figure out the murderer. But you really should read it to take you on that journey.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    Lovely Daniel Schmid Day. I disagree with the notion that he wasn’t really known until after his death. While never a Big Directorial Star until after his death. While alive he was quite wel-known. Raul Gimenez was far more than Schmid’s production designer. He was an actor with significant roles in such Fassbinder films as “Lola” and “Berlin Alexanderplatz He was also one of the great beauties of the 20th century. I met him years ago when I was contemplating writing a book on Fassbinder and took his picture with a cheap Kodak. I’ll see if I can dig it up for “Son of Photo-Ops”

    “Garbage the City and Death” was written by Fassbinder during his stay in L.A. in the 70’s. He was thinking about making a film here and met with Roger Corman, but nothing came of it. He stayed at the Tropicana Motel in WeHo (where Warhol and Morrissey’s “Heat” was shot) and spent the afternoons hang out at “Arthur J’s” a coffee shop at the corner of Santa Monica and Highland. To all outward appearances it looked like a standard-issue “Googie’s”-style coffee shop with nice elderly waitresses in starched uniforms. But the clientele were entirely junkies and male hustlers. As you can well imagine RWF adored the place. He sat at the counter drank in the atmosphere and wrote his most infamous play. “Shadow of Angels” is a rather nice film version of the work which is about postwar German ant-Semitism

  3. _Black_Acrylic

    I’m a fan of Fassbinder but Schmid was a new name to me until now. Tosca’s Kiss has been added to my DVD rental list.

    Last night the DCA Director Beth Bate gave a very good interview to BBC Newsnight about how the creative network of the city has been “hit incredibly hard” by COVID and things are now in a “very fragile” state. Still, the building is due to reopen its doors on 4th September and I hope to be in the general vicinity sometime soon. The plan right now is that my brother Nick will drive us both up to Dundee next week on the 15th and we’ll put all my stuff into storage there for a while. After that’s done we’ll return to Leeds but then who knows?

  4. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – Thank you for this Schmid day! It’s fantastic and I learned quite a bit, as always with these posts. Glad you were able to find so many film excerpts and stills. The Gary Indiana interview is great and now I know where he nicked the title for his novel ‘Do Everything in the Dark.’ Have you read that one?

    I’ll have to check out live footage of XTC. Agree about ‘Pulsing Pulsing.’ The whole collection is really strong.

    I thought ‘Zombi Child’ was better than the withering reviews. Some critics seemed to interpret its message as the exact opposite of what I think the film is positing. The atmosphere and build-up over the first 80 minutes was strange, super stylish, and enthralling, hard to tell where it was heading. The last third of the film, alas, is a mess. Murky where it meant to be ambiguous. And it plays out the possibilities it set in motion in the last interesting/satisfying ways. I suspect you’d find interesting things in it, though it’s frustrating overall.

    A great movie I saw recently — Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair’s experimental doc ‘London Orbital’ which was like Chris Marker pushed further. Really visionary in terms of the edits and language. Deeply strange. Highest recommendation. Their film collaborations seem overdue for reappraisal. Have you seen (m)any?

    Getting ready to leave for Georgia writing retreat soon. If internet is truly as scarce there as they say, you won’t hear from me for another two weeks or so. We’ll see.

  5. h (now j)

    Wow, a wonderful post again. Thank you, Dennis! I obviously don’t know much of Daniel Schmid’s works. But I’m going to find Violanta very soon. That description in particular instrigues me! And more.
    The interview with Gary Indiana sounds great, too. What’s your favorite by Schmid?

    Oh, by the way, I started reading Bernadette Mayer’s Memory (published by Siglio Press) a few days ago. I’ve already read the text entries much before along with the gallery installation of photos (and the sound), so it’s not a surprise for me but still I find it lovely to read slowly in summer. And I’m happy you also included it in your first-half-2020 list.

    Siglio Press will publish two more books on Ray Johnson’s and Felix Gonzalez-Torres later this year, and I’m looking forward to reading them as well. In fact, I want to finish a first draft of review on Johnson’s collage book (Frog Pond Splash) before August ends. Was lucky to have gotten the arc and I like it very much. I haven’t officially reviewed an artist’s book yet, so I’m trying to practise that carefully this time. Have you often reviewed artist’s books in the past? (I found it tricky to distinguish literary books of my interest from artist’s books because I’m mostly interested in unconventional literature often intersecting with visual art.)

    We are enjoying a pleasant weather today, so I’m about to take a long walk soon. Would get a very sugary blueberry muffin and some nutty bagels on my way back home. And then will rewatch Jean Vigo’s Zero for Conduct…to analyze homosexuality in the film. Well, just want to see it again tonight!

  6. Steve Erickson

    My eyes are doing much better today. I can tolerate computer time more without getting eyestrain or a headache, and I am getting far more used to my reading glasses. But the past two days have been a roller coaster ride between exhaustion and extreme anxiety. At least from talking to my friends, everyone in America is on the same roller coaster.

    I wonder if some version of BEESWAX is available online. I love DRUMS AND WIRES, BLACK SEA & SKYLARKING, but I owned WAXWORKS on vinyl and that was a good contender for XTC’s best album.

    Tomorrow, we get a collection of Dominowe demos and a Stooges live album from 1970!

  7. cal

    Hey Dennis,
    There are some images and gods I’m def gonna use for something in today’s post so thank you. Whatcha been listening to lately? I got some music I feel like sharing w you/everybody here:

    Arrival by Fire! Orchestra
    Repitions of the Old City I by Jack o’ the Clock
    Come & See by Mamaleek (one of my fav new albums this year, top notch)
    West of Eden by HMLTD
    Twin Temple s/t

    You know any good contemporary Folk bands? Been on a folk and metal kick /real/ hard lately. Glamour should Kenneth Anger, Blue Oyster Cult, and gold plated over tinted otherwise what’s the point.

    Got a new gif post that you might enjoy. I offer it humbly to the mater (read: you)

    Have a good day Dennis! I’ll try to send some cold winds Paris-ward

  8. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Finally got in! Kept getting a message about the server being down or some shit on you WordPress’ end this morning.

    Peeked in at DavidE’s post yesterday and really liked it.

    Thank you and Joe both for the kind words.

    I had a really good 2-hour phone convo via Viber with Rigby the other night. He sounds great. Doing lots of walking/hiking now, to the point where he’s not even using his cane much.

    So yeah, Joe read my novel as I was writing it. I’d send him each chapter as I finished it and he’d give me feedback. He was sort of my Amy Gerstler (she’s the one you used to run stuff by, right?)

    Need to get up with Mieze and find out how she’s doing. Haven’t talked to her for about a week.

    Think of that, Dennis. Me, Rigby, Mieze, and Joe all met on your blog almost 15 years ago and are still friends and as close of friends as any other friends we have in “real” life. And get closer all the time. Kind of a testament to the blog, no?

    Which means I’ve known you that long too!!!!!!!!!!!!! And we remain very good friends…who woulda thunk, eh? 😛

    Hmm, when COVID-19 is finally gone, we should all meet in Paris and have a big party. Or we could meet in Switzerland. Joe, Rigby, and I had planned tentatively to go there this year (or next).

    The tropical storm…I was awakened Tuesday morning by a tornado warning, which luckily didn’t hit us. 6:22 a.m. And then a flash flood warning. But we made it through with no damage; I think it skirted just east of us and just gave us about four or five inches of rain.

    I’m off Monday because it’s my birthday, and for the first time ever, I’ve taken off a day of work for it. So a 3-day weekend after tomorrow. That will be nice. Not like I’m traveling this year, and I do need to use this leave…

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