THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT
DIE BITTEREN TRÄNEN DER PETRA VON KANT
1972, Janus Films, 124 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Successful fashion designer and caustic narcissist Petra von Kant (Margit Carstensen) and her masochistic, sometimes-lover assistant Marlene (Irm Hermann) share a life of rigorous garment designing and brutal emotional manipulation from within Petra’s apartment. When aspiring model Karin Thimm (Hannah Schygulla) enters the situation, the instantly attracted Petra welcomes the supple young thing into her sick dollhouse with open arms. But Karin’s calm, inscrutable gaze belies her ruthless nature, and soon Petra is as much a casualty of obsession as long-suffering Marlene. A masterwork of intoxicating cinematography, THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT is Rainer Werner Fassbinder at his ravaging best. In German with English subtitles.


THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN
DIE EHE DER MARIA BRAUN
1979, Janus Films, 120 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

The marriage of Maria Braun (Hanna Schygulla in an exacting, ferocious performance) is officiated as bombs fall on it. Remaining unflinchingly loyal to her soldier husband, who soon thereafter is lost in action and then imprisoned, the sharp-as-a-tack Maria manipulates her way into the company and affections of Oswald (Ivan Desny), a manufacturer just gullible enough to give her the lucrative reins to his business. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s portrait of a beleaguered young woman who sees no option for survival but to ascend pitilessly to the top is perhaps the most beautiful, cruel film about the postwar German psyche ever made. In German with English subtitles.


BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE
WARNUNG VIR EINER HEILIGEN NUTTE
1971, Janus Films, 103 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Semi-autobiographical and supposedly based on his Spanish shoot of WHITY, Fassbinder’s tale of a film set gone wrong is a deliciously absurd satire. When actors and crew (among them Hanna Schygulla, Fassbinder and Eddie Constantine as himself) arrive for a shoot only to realize that the script and director are nowhere to be found, a Waiting for Godot-style escalation of anxieties, jealousies and existential despair takes hold - only to be capped by a ridiculously funny deus ex machina when tyrannical director Jeff (Lou Castel) finally swoops down in a helicopter. In German with English subtitles.


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