About a week ago, I started watching this long Fassbinder film titled Effi Briest. It's a 19th Century story along the lines of Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary -- woman trapped in bourgeois culture, adultery, tragedy, etc. -- and somewhere about midway through the film suddenly seemed a little more foreign than average to me. Fassbinder's films don't always travel well. Or maybe it was just me. I wasn't that crazy about the black and white cinematography, either, although apparently a lot of people like it for that reason -- mostly people who praise all black and white photography in the same glowing terms. Anyway, I had this sense I was missing some vital sense of context, so I shut the film off and read reviews of it, all of which pointed out that it was an adaptation of a famous German novel of the same name.
Well, I thought, that makes sense, as the movie is rather heavily "literary" in a way that deliberately calls attention to itself, and it seemed to me a kind of critique of the book, which is quoted heavily thoughout (by Fassbinder himself). I started the movie over and found myself a little more drawn to it, in a cerebral if not emotional way, but I want to read the book and then watch the movie over again before saying much else.