that suffer in their execution—Löwitsch isn’t much of a man of action, and he and Fassbinder deliver perhaps the most inept escaping-from-an-imminent-explosion sequence in cinema history—but above all it’s worth seeing for the director’s take on his material, from the budget opulence and saturated colors to the 360-degree pans and 300-degree circular tracking shots. For every banal depiction of the future, there’s something else uncannily genuine in its strangeness—most notably the pneumatic secretary Gloria Fromm (Barbara Valentin), a presence in the Simulacron offices so watchful and impassive that she seems like some sort of construct herself. Fassbinder makes nearly every frame count in building his world, using shiny surfaces, refractions, and endless mirrors (at least one in almost every scene) to visually reinforce the themes of doubling and distortion. A shot of one of the Simulacron staffers peering through a fish tank as goldfish wriggle by his face, de facto ruler over a fake environment filled with tiny unknowing creatures, is later echoed in a shot of a car window in the bottom of a river. A mynah bird, one of nature’s natural-born fakers, makes an appearance at a critical point. Fassbinder was stuck in the ’70s here and didn’t live out the ’80s, but he was clearly way ahead of his time.