Christian Petzold – Barbara (2012)


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)


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

Christian Petzold – Dreileben – Etwas Besseres als den Tod AKA Beats Being Dead (2011)


A big hospital on the outskirts of a small city in the middle of the Thuringian Forest. Here Johannes carries out his alternative national service. The head physician, a family friend, has recruited him. Johannes gets to know Ana. During the night of their first embrace, a sex offender escapes from the hospital. His flight and the police’s hectic search accompany the story of Johannes and Ana – a love story transcending boundaries, without a future. Continue reading

Fritz Lang – Das wandernde Bild aka The Wandering Image (1920)


The tangled story that unfolds in the torrid melodrama The Wandering Shadow centers around the character of Irmgard (played by actress Mia May), a virtuous woman who, like many such heroines past and present, gets involved with the wrong kind of man. As the film opens, she is seen fussing on a train headed for the picturesque mountains of Germany, fleeing an unidentified gentleman. Through flashbacks, we learn that Irmgard once found employment with a wealthy free-love advocate (Hans Marr). The two have an affair and, with Irmgard pregnant and desperate, she schemes to secretly marry the man’s brother (also played by Hans Marr) so it at least appears that the child is being raised properly. The confusing story eventually has Irmgard trudging through the mountainous terrain to come across a generous monk who offers her a chance at the redemption she so desperately desires. Continue reading

Thomas Brasch – Engel aus Eisen AKA Angels of Iron (1981) (DVD)


Berlin, 1948/1949. The town is divided into two sectors. The world is close to World War III. West Berlin is kept alive by the biggest airlift in history. While the city is deadlocked, three teenagers set out to fulfil their dreams: Völpel (Hilmar Thate), ex-executioner, receives secret information from Police Headquarters. Gladow (Ulrich Wesselmann), 17 years old, wants to be like Al Capone. Lisa Gabler (Katharina Thalbach) dreams of buying Berlins biggest revue venue the ‘Friedrichstadt Palast.’ But suddenly, the droning of the airplanes ceases? Based on a true story from the times of the ‘Berlin Blockade.’ Continue reading

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Bolwieser aka The Stationmaster’s Wife (1977)


Jim’s Reviews/Fassbinder
From Slant:
By Fernando F. Croce
October 4, 2005

The Stationmaster’s Wife’s first image sets up the template for Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s magnificently excruciating study of romantic degradation-frozen in embrace over the opening credits, newlyweds Xaver (Kurt Raab) and Hanni Bolwieser (Elisabeth Trissenaar) kiss and grope ardently, until she abruptly pushes him away (“We don’t want a baby for the moment, all right?”). Watched from outside the bedroom window, the couple is framed in pitiless flat space, Fassbinder’s camera movements terse and entrapping, distilling the director’s maxim of love as “the best, most insidious, most effective instrument of social repression.” The love is Xaver’s, the titular stationmaster and arguably the greatest of Raab’s stump-like petit bourgeois jobs for the director; infatuated with his new wife, he’s unable (or, given Fassbinder’s preference for characters implicit in their own misery, unwilling) to believe the sensation-hungry Hanni is enjoying affairs with various men in their provincial burg in late-1920s Bavaria. Actually, “enjoying” is a misleading word: Hanni’s promiscuity, rather than liberating her, plunges depths of self-loathing, as when, fresh from some afternoon delight with handsome butcher Merkl (Bernhard Helfrich), she gazes at her new Garbo locks in the mirror and spits at her reflection. Venomous gossip promptly spreads throughout the town, derisive cackling ringing in Xaver’s ears as he leaves the pub and marches home to confront his wife, only to be inevitably shouted back into hen-pecked submission. Continue reading