I’m up to twenty-three Fassbinders now, and, though I’ve featured several in this thread, it feels like a good time to pause for more
highlights. The truth is I’m more addicted than ever, and it's tempting to simply submerge myself in his crazy universe. Who needs other
movies when Fassbinder made everything, including costume drama and sci-fi? I may not fully understand why his films have such a hold
on me, but I know I have absolute confidence in his fevered brain. Has anyone ever made as much greatness in such a short period of time as he did 1978-80? Despair
, 13 Moons
, Maria Braun
, Third Generation
and 15½ hours of Berlin Alexanderplatz
; all so fantastic!
isn't a recent discovery, but I needed to rewatch it before I could describe it. The first time I was overwhelmed by the style and crazy comedy, and that's certainly a big part of what I love about this one. Gabriel, the plagiarizing, eavesdropping theologian/servant, is a fantastic character, a constant source of black-comic dissonance. And the climactic parlor game with its absurd amounts of hostility and suspense is always fun to watch. But this time I was struck more by the sadness consuming every character. Their shared histories may be unexplained, but the emotional baggage is plain for everyone to see – the regret, hate, anger, and, perhaps, even love.
The Stationmaster’s Wife
is such a pretty film, and it starts off so sweetly: newlyweds in love, in a beautiful house with lots of murals and mirrors… What more could anyone want? Even as it became obvious that they were real human beings with some rather big flaws, I was totally unprepared for what would follow. “They still have each other,” I thought. “Everything can be worked out, forgiven, discussed, at least, like civilized people.” But 'flaws' become betrayals, people turn out to be vicious, actions are tragically irreversible. And that ending is one of the saddest I’ve ever seen.
Why did no one tell me that Fassbinder made a film starring Dirk Bogarde and adapted by Tom Stoppard from a Nabokov novel?! I had to find it for myself, after all this time – time that could have been better spent watching and re-watching Bogarde plotting murder in ridiculous pajamas, mmm! Despair
is a comedy that’s almost as broad as Satan’s Brew
, but with a much more serious, political edge. It has a terrific, over-the-top performance by Bogarde and plenty of other pleasures as well. It looks scrumptious, like the candy they’re always eating, and, with the pastel colors and plentiful nudity, it’s impossible not to be reminded of Greenaway. Plus I love all the little games played on the theme of perception and mis-identification: the movie with the twins, the insurance salesman who looks like Freud, the worker mistaken for an actor, the employee with the same name as the Chancellor, the mis-remembered painting, the merged reflections. It’s the best blind-buy I’ve made in forever!