Hanna Schygulla

Hanna Schygulla

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Faust Review


Good
Sokurov's fractured version of the Goethe play is something of an oddball masterpiece. It's meandering and fairly impenetrable in its madcap excesses, but is packed with eye-popping imagery and challenging ideas about human nature.

In a medieval German town, Dr Faust (Zeiler) is struggling with the meaning of life and the idea of God. Frustrated by the limits of his knowledge, he embarks on a quest that takes him to a chattery old moneylender (Adasinskiy), who gets his autograph and then follows him everywhere, pushing him into a variety of situations. Along the way, Faust falls for the young Margarete (Dychauk), although his chances with her are somewhat lessened when he kills her brother (Bruckner). But the moneylender can help. For a price.

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The Edge Of Heaven Review


OK
Head-On director Fatih Akin turns his focus from the intimacy of a botched marriage of convenience between a lapsed conservative Muslim and a hard-drinking Turk in his previous film to The Edge of Heaven, a globetrotting human-rights drama about deported Turkish renegades and the lesbians and bookshop owners who love them.

Awarded the Cannes prize for screenwriting at last year's ceremonies, Akin's new world is sparked by a moral dilemma that plagued his lost Muslim girl in Head-On. Yeter (Nursel Köse), "Jessy" to her johns, is a faithful Muslim despite her prostitute day job. The local fundamentalists bully her on the bus and stare daggers at her on the boulevard. After a few times servicing Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz), an elderly customer, she's asked to come and live with him as a roommate and periodic sex slave. Köse's face, fitted with age and a wincing grief, becomes a hardened casket when she's with Ali but melts into tender matriarchy when she's introduced to Nejat (the great Baki Davrak), Ali's German-language professor son.

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Love Is Colder Than Death Review


OK
Werner Fassbinder's first feature.

And with it -- a black and white gangster flick -- Fassbinder creates the least eventful crime movie ever, with a trio of bumbling crooks conning and killing their way to -- well, not quite infamy, but somewhere above obscurity.

Continue reading: Love Is Colder Than Death Review

Werckmeister Harmonies Review


Essential
At two and a half hours, Werckmeister Harmonies is an eye-blink in comparison to director Béla Tarr's seven-hour-plus epic Sátántangó (which was acclaimed by Susan Sontag as the future of cinema and ripped off by Gus Van Sant in Elephant, Last Days, and Gerry). Tarr actually surpasses himself in this condensed format, and what felt bloated and hectoring at epic length feels precise here, and engaging on every level. The tale is told through extremely long, unbroken and fluid camera movements, some drawn out as long as 15 minutes.

Sátántangó opens with 10 minutes of cows emerging onto the muddy landscape of a farming community, which let you know you had to have a saint's patience to endure the rest of the movie. Werckmeister Harmonies, on the other hand, has a more arresting and immediately engaging sequence. It helps that Tarr follows one central protagonist this time, one János Valuska (Lars Rudolph), whom many critics have referred to as a "Holy Fool." But in fact, this supposedly simpleminded guy is a practitioner of the theatrical arts. He has more in common with great Polish theater directors like Grotowski and Artaud than he does with holy fools, and he is first glimpsed staging a bit of performance art for the drunken patrons of an alehouse right before closing time.

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Effi Briest Review


Weak
"It is strange, but much of my life can be described by the word 'almost'."

It's the most powerful sentiment in Fassbinder's Effi Briest, an uncharacteristic departure from his body of work: A black and white period piece about society and morality in 1880s Prussia.

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Love Is Colder Than Death Review


OK
Warner Fassbinder's first feature.

And with it -- a black and white gangster flick -- Fassbinder creates the least eventful crime movie ever, with a trio of bumbling crooks conning and killing their way to -- well, not quite infamy, but somewhere above obscurity.

Continue reading: Love Is Colder Than Death Review

The Niklashausen Journey Review


Terrible
Wow. Fassbinder made some bad movies, but did he ever make a bad movie with this one.

To the best of my understanding, here's what the movie is about. A man known as the "Black Monk" (Fassbinder, uncredited) suggests a shepherd launch a revolution among the lower classes after he claims to have been visited by the Virgin Mary and ordered to do so. The Black Monk suggests as well that dressing up his friend as Mary herself and parading her about might help her cause.

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The Merchant Of Four Seasons Review


Very Good
Fassbinder's meditation on urban malaise is about as grim and hopeless as anything I've seen. Think American Beauty without the irony and relocated to a nondescript city in Germany.

The story follows Hans (Hans Hirschmüller), a fruit merchant who, with his taller and vaguely oppressive wife (Irm Hermann), lives a static and uninteresting life hawking plums and tomatoes from a cart. He hires a salesman but he cheats him. His woman won't even let him have an affair -- even though she's sleeping with the help. Eventually Hans tunes life out altogether, and at a grand family dinner, downs a few dozen shots of liquor, which promptly kills him on the spot.

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Katzelmacher Review


Excellent
Not much happens in Fassbinder's Katzelmacher (the title translates as Cock Artist), at least not until Fassbinder himself shows up to throw a wrench into things.

Those things are the empty lives of a group of Munich city-dwellers, a bunch of men and women roughly in their 30s who do nothing but sit on the sidewalk, smoke, and have sex with one another all day long. Fassbinder's Greek immigrant Jorgos mucks up the status quo when he moves in and takes up with one of the German women (Hanna Schygulla), throwing their slacker lifestyle out of its precarious balance. The local Germs do what any territory-protecting brood would do: They beat the crap out of him.

Continue reading: Katzelmacher Review

The Marriage Of Maria Braun Review


Extraordinary
Quite a marriage our Maria Braun has... Unquestionably Fassbinder's masterpiece, this seminal 1979 work looks at the German post-War experience from a feminist view. After all, when the economy's in the toilet, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do in order to survive.

Hanna Schygulla plays Maria, who marries her beau Hermann (Klaus Löwitsch) toward the end of WWII, just as he's being shipped off to fight for the Nazis. When Hermann disappears, presumed dead, Maria soberly gives up her search for him in favor of taking a job as a prostitute at a dancehall/brothel for American soldiers stationed there. Hermann's sudden return finds her in bed with a large, black G.I., and Maria ends up killing the G.I. in a scuffle.

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Hanna Schygulla Movies

Faust Movie Review

Faust Movie Review

Sokurov's fractured version of the Goethe play is something of an oddball masterpiece. It's meandering...

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