THE MERCHANT OF FOUR SEASONS
HÄNDLER DER VIER JAHRESZEITEN
1971, Janus Films, 88 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Back from the war and greeted with chilling contempt by his mother, Hans Epp (Hans Hirschmuller) continues his streak of disappointing his bourgeois family by becoming a fruit peddler. This lowly profession depresses Hans, driving him to drinking, drugs and casual abuse of his wife (Irm Herrmann), but it’s nothing in comparison with the despair he feels when his business actually begins to flourish and he’s suddenly the pride and joy of his relatives. A merciless and formally virtuoso drama from Rainer Werner Fassbinder, shot with perfection by cinematographer Dietrich Lohmann and named one of the director’s top films by critic Roger Ebert. In German with English subtitles.


FEAR OF FEAR
ANGST VOR DER ANGST
1975, Janus Films, 88 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Margit Carstensen (THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT) is spell-binding as housewife Margot Staudte, whose staid, middle-class existence descends into inexorable madness with her second pregnancy. Fassbinder is in his element here with this deeply riveting psychological portrait. Originally made for television, the film is as radically, ecstatically far from a “TV movie” as can be. In German with English subtitles.


SATAN'S BREW
SATANSBRATEN
1976, Janus Films, 112 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Womanizing writer Walter (Kurt Raab) lives with his nutjob brother Ernst (Volker Spengler), who has a sexual proclivity for houseflies, and juggles drama with both his mistress and wife. Upon becoming obsessed with the work of a 19th-century gay poet, Walter imagines himself as the author’s reincarnation. Aggressively heterosexual, Walter tries to become gay for the full reincarnation to take effect, hiring a slew of handsome young men in togas to be his groupies. Fassbinder’s devilish humor is in full force in this hilarious soap opera, arguably the most flat-out comedy of his career. In German with English subtitles.


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