Victoria, a young woman from Madrid, meets four local Berliners outside a nightclub. Sonne and his friends promise to show her a good time and the real side of the city. But these lads have gotten themselves into hot water: they owe someone a dangerous favor that requires repaying that evening. As Victoria’s flirtation with Sonne deepens into something more, he convinces her to come along for the ride. And later, when things become more ominous and possibly lethally dangerous for Sonne, she insists on coming along. As the night takes on an ever more menacing character, what started out as a good time, quickly spirals out of control. As dawn approaches, Victoria and Sonne address the inevitable: it’s all or nothing and they abandon themselves to a heart-stopping race into the depths of hell. Continue reading
The dramatic arc of Friedliche Tage was developed from images and the people who sustained those images. As long as the film is set in the building where the executions are carried out and the delinquents await their end, the tale is told with “classic” suspense. After Hanna leaves there with Robert, her potential executioner played by Branko Samarowski the traditional, linear narrative form dissolves into individual motifs; images that taken together show that these two, as a couple, can’t manage in the “normal” world. And in the end, some viewers are happy that the executioner returns to his old domain. He knows his way around there, he admits to being guilty of leaving. His career is advancing there. Happy ending? Continue reading
Here’s one of the quintessential films (according to film historians and secondary literature, that is) of the “New German cinema”, the feature debut of Ula Stöckl which is considered one of the first “true” feminist films of German cinema. Continue reading
Like most Fassbinder films, it’s seemingly simple, but there’s a lot too it when you walk a bit closer. This one sets up a great tragicomic situation: a disabled teenager manipulates her parents each to bring their lover to their summer mansion for the weekend. When the father arrives with his lover (Anna Karina, in a very quiet role), he finds his wife pinned to the floor by her boy toy. A bit later the daughter arrives with her caretaker (and possibly her lover?) who is deaf and mute. Mrs. Kast and her blonde son, Gabriel, take care of the mansion, cook, and so forth. Kast is played by Brigitte Mira, who was so wonderful two years earlier in Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul. She’s a lot more cruel in this one. Continue reading
by William Shakespeare
Direction: Thomas Ostermeier
Translation and version by Marius von Mayenburg
Richard is hideous. Born prematurely, he is a deformed, hobbling, hunchbacked cripple who, on the battlefields of the Wars of the Roses – which flared up after the death of Henry V – served his family and above all his brother, Edward, well. Now Edward is king, thanks to a number of murders carried out on his crippled brother’s own initiative. But the end of war brings Richard no peace. His hatred for the rest of the world, to which he will never belong, lies too deep. And so he does what he does best and kills some more, clearing away every obstacle that lies in his path to becoming king. If fate prevents him from being part of a society of those blessed by good fortune, he will at least lord over them. He plays off his rivals against each other with political cunning, unscrupulously exploits the ambitions of others for his own ends and strides spotless through an immense bloodbath until there is no one left above him and the crown is his. Continue reading
Katzelmacher was a revelation. One of only a handful of Fassbinder films which I had not seen before, it seems among his best, and most challenging, works.
Fassbinder’s second feature film, Katzelmacher (1969) is a tour de force of stark visual beauty and ambiguous but riveting characters. Fassbinder adapted his own original play, of the same title, which he had also starred in on stage. (The theatrical script is included in the anthology Fassbinder’s Plays.) Continue reading
Ali (Salem), is a young Moroccan Gastarbeiter (guest worker) in his late thirties, and Emmi (Mira), a 60-year-old widowed cleaning woman. They meet when Emmi ducks inside a bar, driven by the rain and drawn by the exotic Arabic music. A woman in the bar (Katharina Herberg) suggests Ali ask Emmi to dance, and she accepts. A strange and unlikely friendship develops, then a romance and finally they decide to marry.
What follows is a bitter and noxious reaction over their relationship. Gossipy neighbors treat them with contempt, complaining their (already noticeably dilapidated) tenement building has now become filthy. Emmi is shunned by her coworkers, and Ali faces discrimination at every turn. Emmi tells her son-in-law Eugen and daughter Krista (Fassbinder himself and Irm Hermann) that she is in love with Ali; Eugen thinks she is screwy. Continue reading