Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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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

The American Soldier Review


Good
Oddly enough, The American Soldier is not about a war hero. It's not even about an American.

Rainer Fassbinder's Soldier is one of his most straightforward works, but oddly it's one of his most cryptic as well. Right off the bat, Fassbinder introduces us to his black-and-white underground world of crime, women, gambling, and what-have-you. From a five-minute, nearly worldless, scene of a high-stakes poker game (complete with hardcore-pornographic playing cards) we are immersed in a noir-infused atmosphere.

Continue reading: The American Soldier Review

In A Year With 13 Moons Review


OK
Often hailed as one of Fassbinder's best films, I find In a Year with 13 Moons one of his most obvious and least meaningful works. In this film, Fassbinder offers the (lengthy) story of a gay man who is abruptly dumped by his lover -- who decides he now likes women. So he does what anyone would do, right? He gets a sex change to become that woman. Naturally, it doesn't take. Far-fetched and ultimately small, Fassbinder ties to put a metaphysical and cosmological wrapper arond all of this, leading to a very muddy experience.

Continue reading: In A Year With 13 Moons Review

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.

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.

Continue reading: Effi Briest Review

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.

Continue reading: The Niklashausen Journey Review

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.

Continue reading: The Merchant Of Four Seasons Review

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

Chinese Roulette Review


Good
Whoops. When you show up at the country chateau with your lover, make sure your wife hasn't booked it for the same weekend with her beau!

Such is the basic premise of Chinese Roulette, which one-ups the notion of the ruined weekend by adding a crippled daughter and her mute nursemaid to the proceedings. Odd then that the child proves to be the most vicious of them all, as her game of "Chinese Roulette," essentially a truth or dare derivative, ends with gunplay.

Continue reading: Chinese Roulette Review

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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