CHINESE ROULETTE
CHINESISCHES ROULETTE
1976, Janus Films, 96 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Fassbinder goes Gothic with this character-driven, wicked mosaic of intertwining mysteries. Industrial magnate Gerhard Christ (Alexander Allerson) takes his longtime French mistress Irene (Anna Karina) on a weekend getaway to his luxurious countryside chateau. He gets quite a shock when he discovers his wife, Ariane, and disabled teenage daughter, Angela, already at the manse. Angela, who has deviously planned this meeting and is armed with her mute governess (Brigitte Mira) and a collection of grotesque dolls, devises a diabolical and psychologically vicious truth game of "Chinese Roulette" for the adults to play. In German with English subtitles.


MOTHER KUSTERS GOES TO HEAVEN
MUTTER KÜSTERS' FAHRT ZUM HIMMEL
1975, Janus Films, 120 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Frau Kusters (Brigitte Mira) gets the terrible news that her husband Herrmann has gone berserk after layoff announcements at the local tire factory, killed his supervisor and then committed suicide. As reporters sensationalize the deaths, Frau Kusters finds no comfort from her self-involved children, and befriends German Communist Party members Karl and Marianne Thalman (PEEPING TOM’s Karlheinz Bohm and THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT’s Margit Carstensen), who crash Herrmann’s funeral and see his death as a revolutionary act. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s brilliant send-up of Germany’s class structure, blood-sucking media and armchair activism features a superb cast and is shot impeccably by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. In German with English subtitles.


ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL
ANGST ESSEN SEELE AUF
1974, Janus Films, 93 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

When robust young Moroccan guest worker Ali (El Hadi ben Salem) and quiet, unassuming Emmi (Brigitte Mira), a white German woman easily 20 years his senior, meet in a bar, the chemistry is palpable and the two become a couple. But 1970s Germany is not kind to cross-generational, cross-racial relationships, and Emmi and Ali find their romance suddenly up against a closely guarded barrier of hostility and envy from friends and family. A surprisingly tender film from Fassbinder that often is considered his best, ALI follows the soul-wearing difficulties of prejudice, homesickness and unconventional love. In German with English subtitles.


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