Irm Hermann

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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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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.

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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.

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Fear Of Fear Review


Good
Would that I'd seen Fear of Fear before The Hours. Margot's (Margit Carstensen) story (at least at first) maps almost directly with Laura Brown's (Julianne Moore) from the latter film.

Here, pregnant Margot becomes convinced she's going insane when, a few weeks before her second child is born, she starts to develop a fear so overwhelming that her vision starts to freak out: blurring and wavering like she's looking across hot asphalt. We see the film largely through her eyes and can't help but feel the same way. As Margot seeks help for her problem, she turns to Valium, alcohol, and sex with the pharmacist. Her cold husband offers little help in any of this.

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