104) Paganini (1989) Dir: Klaus Kinski Date Released (VHS): ???? Date Seen: March 24, 2012 Rating: 3.5/5
In part, this Kinski-helmed, scripted and edited starring vehicle/biopic is simultaneously more earnest and more manic than a Ken Russell biopic. But this movie couldn't exist without Russell. Granted, Kinski is an even bigger scene-stealing ham than Oliver Reed ever was. But how can one watch such a pleasingly demented one-note film as Paganini and not think it comes up short in comparison to Russell's period pieces?
In particular, I'm thinking of the painfully protracted scenes that start the film off. Initially, Kinski inundates us with images that prove Paganini's erotic Svengali-like powers as a violin player. The ferocity of the scene where a girl tops herself all alone in a carriage is only matched by the absurdity of the intercut footage Kinski shoves down our throats of a black stallion mounting a white mare. This is set-up at its most puissantly lurid. Compare that with the way that Franz Liszt is shown in Russell's Lisztomania to be changing from one scene to the next. He's constantly evolving and bouncing off the walls while doing it. By contrast, Kinski's Paganini is a more slowly unraveling yo-yo.
I can't think of a good yo-yo pun so I'll just end by saying: my, that horse has impressive equipment.