EFFI BRIEST
FONTANE - EFFI BRIEST
1974, Janus Films, 140 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Adapted from Theodor Fontane’s novel of the same name, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s richly textured period piece showcases the director’s ability to give traditional source material his own iconoclastic edge. In this 19th century-set tale, 17-year-old Effi Briest (Hanna Schygulla) lives with the older Baron von Instetten in a spookily isolated Baltic manor. Left alone much of the time and with a newly born daughter, Effi begins to enjoy the “company” of handsome Major Crampas (Ulli Lommel), but it is only a matter of time before the baron’s suspicions escalate to violent consequences. Winner of the 1974 InterFilm Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, and named one of the 1,000 best films of all time by the New York Times. In German with English subtitles.


LOVE IS COLDER THAN DEATH
LIEBE IST KÄLTER ALS DER TOD
1969, Janus Films, 88 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

In Fassbinder's stark, sardonic debut feature, small-time Munich pimp Franz Walsch (played by an uncredited Fassbinder) relishes his entrepreneurial independence and refuses to join the local mob, despite its allure of greater cash flow and stability. When Franz is befriended by mysterious crook Bruno (Ulli Lommel), the two go on a small but frenzied crime spree of theft and murder, along with Franz's prostitute girlfriend Joanna (Hanna Schygulla). But as Franz plans another robbery, this time a more elaborate heist, the allegiances of the trio begin to break down. Why did Bruno seek out Franz in the first place? And is Joanna's jealous distrust leading her to make other plans? In German with English subtitles.


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.


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