Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Ich will doch nur, daß ihr mich liebt AKA I Only Want You to Love Me (1976)

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A man is interviewed by a sympathetic woman. His tale unfolds, of hard work that never pleases his parents, of a father who denigrates his efforts, of an indifferent mother. He builds them a house. Instead of offering their flat to him and his bride, they give the flat up, so he goes to Munich to work in construction, bringing his wife who is soon pregnant. They buy things on credit; he works overtime. He shows up with flowers and expensive gifts. When construction slows and he works less overtime, he cannot adjust his spending habits: he needs to be loved. Pressures mount. When he snaps, and violence ensues, who will be his victim? Continue reading

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Angst vor der Angst aka Fear of Fear (1975)

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For a long, in-depth review; see Jim’s Reviews link

From Bill’s Movie Emporium:
The story presented in Angst Vor Der Angst isn’t original by any means, although in 1975 I’m sure it had some originality to it. Originality doesn’t matter though, because Angst Vor Der Angst is about a quality director taking a relatively simple subject and turning it into a great movie. Angst Vor Der Angst is a dramatic tale, yet it is a tale we can relate to. Some of the characters may seem cliche, but they aren’t over the top and most of us have had a domineering mother-in-law or a bothersome sister-in-law in our lives. Continue reading

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Chinesisches Roulette AKA Chinese Roulette (1976)

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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

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Katzelmacher (1969)

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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

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Angst essen Seele auf AKA Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

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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

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Liebe ist kälter als der Tod AKA Love Is Colder Than Death (1969)

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Love is Colder Than Death was Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s first feature-length film (he had directed two shorts three years earlier: The Little Tramp and The Little Chaos), the story of a small-time pimp, Franz (Fassbinder), and his complicated relationship with his prostitute girlfriend, Joanna (Hanna Schygulla), and a criminal associate, Bruno (Ulli Lommel), who mysteriously and erotically enters their lives. Had the film been made at a later point in Fassbinder’s all-too brief but remarkably illustrious and prolific career, the film’s static aesthetic could have been read as a deliberate attempt on the director’s part to show his critics that his camera need not move on inch to convey the same rapturous feeling of his greater films. Except Love is Colder Than Death is not a great Fassbinder film. Continue reading

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)

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This shattering adaptation of Alfred Döblin’s masterpiece – made for TV in 13 episodes with a two-hour epilogue – offers a level-headed account of protagonist Biberkopf’s key weakness: his quasi-sexual infatuation with the psychotic pimp Reinhold. Aided by great design, cinematography, and, not least, performances, Fassbinder tells the story surprisingly naturalistically. Then in the epilogue, he offers a disturbing meditation on his own fantasies about Biberkopf. This phantasmagoria is Fassbinder’s most daring act of self-exposure: a movie time-bomb that forces you to rethink the series as a whole. The work of a genuine master with nothing left to lose or hide. Continue reading