Programmed by Bryce Prewitt
Known as much for the diverse, controversial, boiling antagony of his films as he was for the compulsive, breakneck workaholism that would define and end his life, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his work transcend qualification and quantification, at once beyond reproach and yet demanding of an exacting scrutiny. Provocative, critical, human above all else, his films sought the ultimate duality: to tower with the splendor and grace of Hollywood while tearing pound after pound of flesh from a most reprehensible status quo. Perhaps it is only fitting, then, for his death to have clawed the dwindling New German Cinema - a movement long since having lost so much of its wit, expression, and soul - down with it. With Love is Colder Than Death: The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, we explore works as technically challenging as they are narratively, blending the best of unruly avant-garde cinema with humanity at its most melodramatic, raw and exposed, those full of the calculated messes and complex characterisations that rendered him one of cinema's most notorious giants, an auteur whose films always yield introspection and awe -- whether experimental noir; brazen self-satire; controversial dramas of unyielding psychological torment; playful genre revisionism and daring homoerotic intrigue; challenging, philosophical, hard-edged scifi; intimate, deeply personal examinations of politics and terror; or scathing attacks on establishment capitalism.
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1969) · It's hard not to see Fassbinder's prodigiously seething and sardonic debut feature as an allegory for his own life and work. Fassbinder stars as Franz Walsch, an unimportant, unproven pimp with aspirations of success independent of establishment control. With Joanna, his prostitute lover, and likeminded thief Bruno, Franz engages in a frenetic rampage of thievery, murder, lust, homoeroticism, and betrayal, turning Munich upside down in the process.
runtime: 88m format: 35mm
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979) · The centerpiece of Fassbinder's noir trilogy, Gods of the Plague follows Franz Walsch as he eagerly returns to a life of crime, while navigating the intense personalities and friendships which dominate the Munich underworld - among them his former lover, a mysterious new lover, and a beloved friend who murdered his brother. It is their interplay which provides Fassbinder with the materials for his manipulation and deconstruction of genre convention and the realities they reflect.
runtime: 92m format: 35mm
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1970) · The final film in his revisionist, informal noir trilogy, finds a young Fassbinder at extremes. We follow Ricky, returning home from Vietnam to Germany - now in severe political unrest - to become a killer for hire. Shockingly callous, even for Fassbinder, Ricky is cold, numbed by booze and women. The American Soldier is the ultimate homage, a world full of characters from Sirk, Godard, Aldrich, Fuller, and Vidor films; where murder comes every bit as easy as sex.
runtime: 80m format: 35mm
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1971) · Not only is this the greatest meta-film ever made, it might also be the greatest documentary about the art of cinema and of filmmaking itself, as much for its reverence of the craft as for its crushing condemnation thereof. Beware of a Holy Whore finds Fassbinder at his surreal, viciously contemplative best, gleefully deconstructing Whity, his then-greatest failure, and the frailty of the real, nonlinear human relationships expressed within its making.
runtime: 103m format: 35mm
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1992) · Known as much for its incredible mise-en-scène as for its controversial, appallingly bleak take on women and, especially, women engaged in lesbian relationships, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is an unyielding exploration of the classic theatrical tropes of power, sexuality, desire, ambition, and dominance. Petra's life unravels over five self-contained but interconnected, vignettes of increasing cruelty and evocative claustrophobia.
runtime: 124m format: 35mm
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973) · What better describes Fassbinder's approach to filmmaking than coopting ethos to explicitly turn it on its head. Having done so with noir, Western, and melodrama before it, Fassbinder turned to 70s popcorn scifi. This incredible, challenging and deeply philosophical adaption of "Simulacron-3" follows Fred Stiller (Klaus Lowitsch) as he searches for answers in the wake of murder, deciphering the interweaved, often contradictory natures of memory and reality, fate and freewill.
runtime: 205m format: 35mm
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Volker Schlöndorff, etc., 1978) · Filmed in the wake of the German Autumn (which took its popular name from the film itself), a series of shockingly brutal political and terrorist attacks late in 1977, this film finds Fassbinder at his most intimate, raw, and vulnerable. The German Autumn is slowly made as real as the banalities of normal life as cinematographer Michael Ballhaus forsakes his usual visual splendor to find the beauty in the seemingly flat and emotionless.
runtime: 134m format: 35mm
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979) · With longtime collaborators Michael Ballhaus and Klaus Lowitsch, Fassbinder projects the misery of the second world war, the collapse of the continent in the aftermath, and the ensuing economic miracle onto a single, shrewdly intelligent, highly sexual woman. The commercial and critical success of The Marriage of Maria Braun, coming so late and so close to death in the extremely troubled filmmaker's life, is as satirical and heartbreaking as the film itself.
runtime: 120m format: 35mm
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1981) · Lola is the sublime culmination of a lifelong fascination with Hollywood, finding a creatively reinvigorated Fassbinder delighting in eye-popping color, reveling in sound and music, oozing style, and wielding every single cinematic trick he ever pioneered or borrowed. Lola follows the titular singer and prostitute as she plots to pit her boss, Schuckert, against the incorruptible new building commissioner, von Bohm.
runtime: 115m format: 35mm