FOX AND HIS FRIENDS
FAUSTRECHT DER FREIHEIT
1975, Janus Films, 123 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Franz “Fox” Biberkopf (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) and his lover Klaus have their carnival attraction “Fox, the Talking Head” shuttered by the cops, and Klaus is promptly imprisoned. Jobless, single and adrift, Fox falls in with Eugen and Philip, a glamorous, status-conscious couple with conspicuously expensive tastes who only snobbishly tolerate him. But when Fox is the improbable lottery winner of 500,000 marks, Eugen (Peter Chatel), the heir of a bookbinding firm in desperate need of funds, is suddenly anxious to become Fox’s confidant. Fassbinder’s wickedly deft work of betrayal and trickery showcases the talented director’s flare for artfully combining the bizarre with the mundane, as well as his own impressive acting chops. “Years before Hollywood made its first faltering steps in the direction of a new frankness about homosexuality, Fassbinder was miles out in front.” - Roger Ebert. 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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