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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.


BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE
WARNUNG VIR EINER HEILIGEN NUTTE
1971, Janus Films, 103 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Semi-autobiographical and supposedly based on his Spanish shoot of WHITY, Fassbinder’s tale of a film set gone wrong is a deliciously absurd satire. When actors and crew (among them Hanna Schygulla, Fassbinder and Eddie Constantine as himself) arrive for a shoot only to realize that the script and director are nowhere to be found, a Waiting for Godot-style escalation of anxieties, jealousies and existential despair takes hold - only to be capped by a ridiculously funny deus ex machina when tyrannical director Jeff (Lou Castel) finally swoops down in a helicopter. 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.


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