Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Rio das Mortes (1971)

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From Celluloid Breakfast:
In the opening scene of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Rio Das Mortes, Hanna Schygulla repeats to herself a passage from a childcare book about achievement, indirectly teasing the two protagonists who are to be introduced later. Mike and Günther, feeling unfulfilled by infrequent employment and soured relationships, decide to unravel the mysteries of a treasure map, plotting a trip to Peru in the hopes of finding gold. Mike’s girlfriend Hanna doubts the men’s ability to organise such an excursion, but is crushed when they succeed, and tries to find whatever means she can to stop them. Continue reading

Werner Schroeter – Malina (1991)

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In “Malina,” the German film maker Werner Schroeter’s adaptation of a novel by Ingeborg Bachman, Isabelle Huppert portrays a writer who suffers from an interminable case of existential angst.

Isabelle Huppert’s unnamed character is a chain-smoking novelist who lives in Vienna with a calm and devoted male companion, Malina (Mathieu Carriere). Although attractive and successful, she is emotionally disturbed. In the film’s opening scene, she has a vision of herself as a little girl being thrown to her death by her father from the roof of a building. The father, a demonic figure, reappears in several expressionistic set pieces, sometimes to the accompaniment of operatic music.

One day in front of a flower shop, she spies a handsome stranger, Ivan (Can Togay), whom she chases into a bank and inveigles into embarking on a steamy affair. Although Ivan enjoys the relationship, he takes it more lightly than does the woman, who grows obsessed…. Continue reading

Christoph Hochhäusler – Dreileben – Eine Minute Dunkel AKA One Minute of Darkness (2011)

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The Dreileben trilogy comes to a nail-biting close with director Christoph Hochhäusler’s expert thriller, which also brings escaped felon Molosch—a peripheral character in the first two parts—into sharp focus. Hot on the killer’s trail, grizzled police inspector Marcus (Eberhard Kirchberg) tries to put himself inside the mind of the criminal, even as he begins to wonder if the condemned man really is guilty as charged. Meanwhile, as Molosch (brilliantly played by Stefan Kurt) flees deeper into Dreileben’s possibly enchanted forest, he has an unexpectedly tender encounter with a young runaway girl—scenes that echo the Frankenstein story and transform One Minute of Darkness into a dark, memorably strange fairy tale. Continue reading

Dominik Graf – Dreileben – Komm mir nicht nach AKA Don’t Follow Me Around (2011)

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In the trilogy’s second chapter, Jo (Jeanette Hain), a big-city police psychologist, arrives in Dreileben to aid in the ongoing investigation, whereupon she finds herself greeted cooly by the local authorities but welcomed with open arms by Vera (Susanne Wolff), a college friend who lives nearby with her husband, a pretentious author. As the girlfriends reminisce about bygone days and discover they were both once in love with the same man, director Dominik Graf deftly juxtaposes their personal drama against the search for a killer, a police corruption scandal, and a possible case of interspecies transmutation—all underlining the trilogy’s recurring themes of false appearances and deeply hidden truths. Continue reading

Christoph Hochhäusler – Dreileben – Eine Minute Dunkel AKA One Minute of Darkness (2011) (HD)

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The Dreileben trilogy comes to a nail-biting close with director Christoph Hochhäusler’s expert thriller, which also brings escaped felon Molosch—a peripheral character in the first two parts—into sharp focus. Hot on the killer’s trail, grizzled police inspector Marcus (Eberhard Kirchberg) tries to put himself inside the mind of the criminal, even as he begins to wonder if the condemned man really is guilty as charged. Meanwhile, as Molosch (brilliantly played by Stefan Kurt) flees deeper into Dreileben’s possibly enchanted forest, he has an unexpectedly tender encounter with a young runaway girl—scenes that echo the Frankenstein story and transform One Minute of Darkness into a dark, memorably strange fairy tale. Continue reading

Christian Petzold – Barbara (2012)

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Summer in the GDR in 1980. Barbara, a doctor, has submitted an application to emigrate to the West. She is punished by being posted away from the capital to a hospital in a small town. Jörg, her lover in the West, is busy planning her escape via the Baltic Sea. It’s a waiting game for Barbara. Her new flat, the neighbours, summer and the countryside no longer hold any charms for her. Although she is attentive to her young patients in the department for pediatric surgery under her new boss, André, she is deliberately cool to her colleagues. Her life, she thinks, will begin later. Continue reading

Christoph Hochhäusler – Unter dir die Stadt (2010)

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A man and a woman at an art exhibition share a fleeting moment of attraction, which neither can act upon. Days later, a chance second meeting leads to an innocent coffee and the two strangers – both married – toy with their unexplainable fascination for each other. Svenja is curious and finds herself in a hotel room with Roland, but she does not consummate an affair. A powerful executive at the large bank where Svenja’s husband works, Roland is used to getting what he wants. He manipulates the transfer of her husband to Indonesia to replace a recently murdered bank manager. Unaware of Roland’s actions, Svenja now ceases to resist… Continue reading