Gerhard Zwerenz in In a Year of 13 Moons

Our last port of call on Elvira’s downward spiral is a strange one, especially when at one hour forty five we cut from Elvira’s final decision, when she sees her family for the last time, to a drearyt storyteller climbing a wooden stair with a younger woman.   You almost don’t want to hear this story, it seems so late in the film for new characters and scenes, but as with Zora’s fairy tale, the story in itself is a cue if you like, for a rest for Elvira.

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Hark Bohm in Lola

Dear Hark Bohm has had many a Fassbinder role over the years, and has a face and acting style suited to several types, one of which we see in evidence here: the corrupt local official. Bohm is the mayor who, when he is not hiding out in the brothel, is in cahoots with everybody, particularly the local land developer. In fact, in all of Lola, we never see Hark Bohm doing anything remotely honest. Instead, the life of the local official is portrayed as a fairly active whirl of successive and corrupt meetings, interspersed with prostitution.

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Volker Spengler in In A Year of 13 Moons

What’s the first thing we hear? Volker Spengler’s boots coming down a set of stairs, and he cocks them nicely while we read that this is Tango Films Nummer Neun. When all things coincide, the art is good – in this case an actor and director, both in a career best. Certainly, Volker Spengler as Elvira is as memorable a master class in acting as one could ever hope to see – and In a Year of 13 Moons must surely be one of the best Fassbinder’s out there. I know that it is many people’s favourite.

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder and In a Year of 13 Moons

Now, I might have to get this out of the way first, but the most difficult aspect of the film is probably its core: Volker Spengler screaming the words of Goethe in a slaughterhouse, to the accompaniment of a Handel organ concerto. It’s to this we must keep returning.

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Fassbinder and Lola

When watching a Fassbinder film that doesn’t feature the man himself, one can almost drift away from the fact he is there as mastermind. In LOLA Fassbinder does not even provide so much as a voiceover, such as he does in BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ and other places, where his direct intonation and meaningful tone serve to remind us of what sort of film event this is.

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Elisabeth Trissenaar in In a Year of 13 Moons

One of Fassbinder’s greatest strengths was his casting. Not that the vast majority of films made are poorly or inadequately cast – they are not – but with his low budgets and his incredible production speed, his correct casting must have saved him a huge deal of time and energy.

Read more: Elisabeth Trissenaar in In a Year of 13 Moons

Kurt Raab in The Niklashausen Journey

Presiding over the society that Fassbinder creates and mocks in The Niklashausen Journey, is the local bishop, played by Kurt Raab. The bishop lives and works in an absurdly rococo room, around which lounge half naked boys, the slumped sloven of a woman, and other inactive beings who partake of various slow and unspecified pursuits on the floor. For both Fassbinder and Kurt Raab (both homosexual and also lovers off and on until the inevitable split) filmmaking was about total vision, and Kurt Raab’s real skill outside acting, was dressing sets, which he did for many of the films.

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Udo Kier in Mark of the Devil (1970)

Horror talisman and genre superstar Udo Kier really began his career with Mark of The Devil (Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält) a startlingly graphic story of European with-finding and torture — if you’ve not seen it you will be startled as well as amused.  The way Udo Kier looks back in 1969, you can’t imagine any casting director turning him down, as he is simply stunning.  There might not be a lot for Kier to do in terms of acting, but he knows what to do on film, and his slow burning romantic stares are movie-house gold.

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Lilo Pempeit in In a Year of 13 Moons

We could all write volumes, or stay up for nights on end , discussing the whats and whys of Fassbinder’s casting of his own mother. It is unusual to say the least, especially when she wasn’t an actress – but Lilo Pempeit was very much a part of the group – as it is called – and although she begun by sorting out the tangled finances of Tango Films, I have the feeling that anybody who was in the director’s vicinity for any amount of time, was going to end up on film.

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Franz Maron in The Niklashausen Journey

One of the more punishing scenes in Die Niklashauser Fart is the one in which Magarethe feeds her husband, played by Franz Maron. It’s all in the miserable colour of the soup and the speed at which she delivers it; the same speed at which she delivers her adoring lines about the prophet Hans Boehm. She leans back ecstatically, while the invalid husband stares towards the end of the bed, the very opposite of her in colour and in presence. Another wonderful marital scene from Fassbinder.

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Udo Kier in Epidemic (1987)

Epidemic (1987) is my favourite Lars Von Trier film; that doesn’t mean to say it’s his best or anything like that; but it at least abides by my first rule of auteurism: if the auteur is in a starring role in the film, the genius always flows.  The most superb charm of this film is the acting relationship between Lars and Niels Vorstel, his co-writer for this, and also for ELEMENT OF CRIME and KINGDOM.

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Lilo Pempeit in In a Year of 13 Moons

We could all write volumes, or stay up for nights on end , discussing the whats and whys of Fassbinder’s casting of his own mother. It is unusual to say the least, especially when she wasn’t an actress – but Lilo Pempeit was very much a part of the group – as it is called – and although she begun by sorting out the tangled finances of Tango Films, I have the feeling that anybody who was in the director’s vicinity for any amount of time, was going to end up on film.

Read more: Lilo Pempeit in In a Year of 13 Moons

Ingrid Caven in The Niklashausen Journey

Ingrid Caven is located in the Nicklashauen Journey, drinking a glass of Coca Cola, present at the Amon Duul jam, briefly photographed as the camera works its way round the communal experience of the band’s jam session. In this scene there are a lot of bodies, a lot of smoking, and the sort of general mess you might expect from communal life.

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Udo Kier in Dracula 3000 (2004)

Think Udo Kier and you might be tempted to say: ‘Special Appearance’; but would he be enough to have you watch Dracula 3000, even if you were a complete vampire or Dracula fan?

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Isolde Barth in In a Year of 13 Moons

Young Isolde Barth has an interesting but small role in this film, as the wife of the interviewer whom we don’t meet till quite near the end – indeed by the time it is too late for Elvira. Barth seems to have been a very busy actor, and made regular Fassbinder appearances from The Stationmaster’s Wife in 1977.

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Ingrid Caven in The Niklashausen Journey

Ingrid Caven is located in the Nicklashauen Journey, drinking a glass of Coca Cola, present at the Amon Duul jam, briefly photographed as the camera works its way round the communal experience of the band’s jam session. In this scene there are a lot of bodies, a lot of smoking, and the sort of general mess you might expect from communal life.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in The Niklashausen Journey

The Story of O (1975)

It’s normal for a successful book to be made into a film, and in France in the 1960s and 1970s, books didn’t come much more successful than Anne Desclos’ erotic novel of dominance and submission, The Story of O. None of this of course means that O is automatically have a good film, and in the case of erotica, the chances are even lower. It does have a certain place in history however, even if it’s not that auspicious, and it has a unique performance from Corinne Cléry, who most will know from Moonraker (1979), though she is in fact also in Yor, the Hunter From the Future (1983).

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Walter Bockmayer in In a Year of 13 Moons

Soul-Frieda’s bohemian flat and hang out is the safest place in Frankfurt. Soul-Frieda tells you his dreams. You can play with the spinning top or look at yourself in the mirror; enjoy the next-to-nothing lo-fi music on the breathed accordion, and have a drink from one of the many red wine bottles in the middle of the floor. Or you can lift weights too, that’s fun. Soul-Friede likes candles, obviously, and Soul-Friede understands transgender.

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Werner Schroeter in Beware of a Holy Whore

Nobody much savaged Disney back in the day, because none of their world-offending tendencies had really manifested themselves yet; not quite in the eyes of some however. Deiters, Fotograf (as Werner Schröter) who commences Beware of a Holy Whore, offers a beguiling speech, which will initially tell a viewer; if the rest of the film is going to be like this, we are in for an awful evening. And largely: what the hell does this have to do with anything at all?

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Udo Kier in SeaQuest DSV (1993)

The plan with any decent TV series — especially those of the fantastic variety — is to detail the full backstory in the credits – and if this requires a voiceover (as here, and most famously of all in Star Trek) then so be it. From the opening of Seaquest DSV (1993-96) we learn therefore that it is the 21st Century and people are living in bubbles under the sea, they are all pretty good looking and wear uniforms, and operate on decent American middle class values, having adventures as they go.

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Peter Kollek in In a Year of 13 Moons

As news of General Pinochet’s political evil in Chile rings over a deserted (yet to all appearances booming) Frankfurt skyline, we are fortunate indeed to have a look into what Fassbinder really thinks of WDR’s ‘economic miracle’; and we visit Gottfried John as Anton Saitz in an office building, which looks shining and glassy on the outside – but is in fact empty.

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Udo Kier in Lola

Poor, staid, local government official Von Bohm cracks up when he enters the bordello, actually goes mad, first at the sight of the brothel which he finds unbelievable; and then when he sees Lola. While he believes the town is safe and sleepy, he discovers the oppositethat everyone has really been living it up in these garish late night haunt; by the time he sees Lola singing Caprifischer, his laughter has already turned to tears.

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Udo Kier in Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Silly science fiction movies may be judged on their own merits — or you may judge them in relation to the canon of silly science fiction in general; and of course one must never forget why they are B-movies, because they must also be judged against (and look good compared to) movies of yet lower classes, down to the amateur.

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