Barbara Valentin

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Martha Review


Good
Martha's (Margit Carstensen) father drops dead, then she's faced with a horrible marriage of abuse and Gaslight-class torture. Fassbinder offers up an extremely bleak work here, even for him, but ultimately the film works mainly as the diatribe against marriage that it is. The rail-thin and ghost-pale Carstensen doesn't really evoke sympathy; she's too freaking scary to make us wish for a happy ending.

Ali: Fear Eats The Soul Review


Extraordinary
One of Fassbinder's crown jewels, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is as powerful as any film he ever made, despite its pedestrian premise.

In '70s Germany, fiftysomething Elli (Brigitte Mira) enters an ethnic bar to get out of the rain. Here she meets a young man named Ali (El Hedi ben Salem), a Moroccan guest worker with broken German language skills. A strange and unlikely friendship develops, then a romance. Within a few days, they're married.

Continue reading: Ali: Fear Eats The Soul Review

Carmen, Baby Review


OK
Uta Levka gets the honors in this go-round to be Radley Metzger's oft-naked vamp. In this rendition of the classic opera and novel Carmen (dig the title), Carmen is a bit of a tramp who woos a cop who's trying to arrest her and then a rock star, despite the fact that she's married. Jealousy rears its head eventually, with disastrous consequences. (Hell, if you saw the way Carmen could dance -- it's just her and a long-necked Chianti bottle -- you'd feel the same!)

Metzger earns points for picking good source material, but in his typical fashion he meanders all over the place en route to telling his story. He gets around to it eventually, but there are so many cocked eyebrows and sultry glances that it's easy to miss the actual plot amidst all the sexy subtlety.

Continue reading: Carmen, Baby Review

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