Udo Kier in The Last Minute (2001)

The internet is littered with damning and unenthusiastic reviews of The Last Minute (2001) by Stephen Norrington, which proves one of the basics of the culture industry: if you’ve had a success with one style or genre, then don’t think as an artist you can try something else. They will really boot you down for that, especially if you achived your success in genre.

Read more: Udo Kier in The Last Minute (2001)

Hark Bohm in Falcons (2002)

Falcons (2002) is a 90 minute Icelandic drama with a bit of crime, a bit of love interest, a bit of scenery, and a metaphor that links the main character – an ex jail bird – with the smuggling of Icelandic Falcons - a real bird! That makes it sound ordinary, and it kind of is; but it has some things going for it. It has a creepy cop that is played really well (by Ingvar Eggert Sigurðssonan; see him in Cold Light 2004); and it has lurking within it some corny romantic yearnings.  It also has Keith Carradine, which sold me as I'll watch anything with any member of the Carradine clan in it.

Read more: Hark Bohm in Falcons (2002)

Gottfried John in Institute Benjamenta (1996)

When I don’t enjoy a film, I try my best not to proclaim it to be bad, as is the common temptation. If a lot of attention has been paid to the work, then even if I hated everything from the colours to the conceited conception, I find myself wondering what it was that people could have seen in it. This was in order with Institute Benjamenta (1996), and starring Gottfried John, so before I return to worrying about whether there was anything of any merit in it at all, I thought I had better scour the internet looking for viewers and critics that not only liked it, but were raised to spiritual highs by the long-laboured efforts of its creators.

Read more: Gottfried John in Institute Benjamenta (1996)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder in The Niklashausen Journey

Viewing the opening shot of The Niklashausen Journey, those with the relevant cinematic experience will instantly recognise the back of the head of Rainer Werner Fassbinder – almost entirely known by the leather jacket at this stage. Although the scene resembles something from an awful drama class, what is happening is vital to the era in which the film was shot; discussion of revolution. Fassbinder didn’t exactly set about producing timeless classics of cinema, but his pictures have more in common with the news. It means that in many cases, particularly if he’s dealing with politics or culture, there’s quite a few things you need to know if you are to enjoy them.

Read more: Rainer Werner Fassbinder in The Niklashausen Journey

Claus Holm in The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959)

Although the film was made in Germany in 1959, the racial attitudes in The Tiger of Eschnapur are those of 1859.  It’s not just the ridiculous costumes and the fact that German actors ‘blacking up’ are considered to be the authentic and palatable alternative to employing actual Indian culture; it’s worse.  First it’s the fact that in The Tiger of Eschnapur you will witness every cliché you know concerning the sub-continent; from the Indian Rope Trick to hosts of lepers; and then there’s the constant implication that India is some filthy den of crime and mystery, awaiting the taming influence of European manners.

Read more: Claus Holm in The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959)

Gottfried John in Institute Benjamenta (1996)

When I don’t enjoy a film, I try my best not to proclaim it to be bad, as is the common temptation. If a lot of attention has been paid to the work, then even if I hated everything from the colours to the conceited conception, I find myself wondering what it was that people could have seen in it. This was in order with Institute Benjamenta (1996), and starring Gottfried John, so before I return to worrying about whether there was anything of any merit in it at all, I thought I had better scour the internet looking for viewers and critics that not only liked it, but were raised to spiritual highs by the long-laboured efforts of its creators.

Read more: Gottfried John in Institute Benjamenta (1996)

Walter Sedlmayr in The Niklashausen Journey

There are lectures of different sorts in The Niklashuasen Journey (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); some political, some social, and some religious. Maybe it’s not good cinema, or maybe it is; it’s hard for us to answer that question because so few of us are going to get the chance to see this on the big screen. There is a crucial difference between watching this in such an environment and on DVD, where we are generally alone in our home or in a couple; and the cinema, which is a shared experience, which is more difficult to leave.  We would perhaps enjoy the oratory more, such as is delivered in Niklashauser Fart by Walter Sedlmayr.

Read more: Walter Sedlmayr in The Niklashausen Journey

Margit Carstensen in Satan’s Brew

When push comes to shove and Kranz needs more money, and the possibility of another sexual partner, he calls one of his fans, a woman called Andrée who has been writing to him for years. Andrée is one of the ultimate horror parts for any Fassbinder actress; unattractive, vacillating and there to be abused. It is even funny that Fassbinder spared Irm Hermann here and gave the part to Margit Carstensen, who we should note, only ever plays beautiful, beautiful people, in all Fassbinder films.

Read more: Margit Carstensen in Satan’s Brew

Barbara Sukowa in Europa (1991)

‘You will now listen to my voice. My voice will help you, and guide you still deeper into Europa.’ So is the stunning opening to Europa in the world-famous voice of Max von Sydow, as he describes the journey of film, of life and of our own internal fantasy. It’s deep stuff! And one of the best openings there has ever been in film - really!

Read more: Barbara Sukowa in Europa (1991)

Beware of a Holy Whore Gallery

 

Beware of a Holy Whore, called in German Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte, is a Rainer Werner Fassbinder favourite because it's about the process of film making.  It portrays the apathy and impatience of the film set and is made of many set-pieces, ridiculing the in-fighting and in-loving that goes on when a group of young people produce a work of art.

Read more: Beware of a Holy Whore Gallery

Volker Spengler in Satan’s Brew

There are plenty Fassbinder actors who can say that they’ve played strange roles, although the crown must rest on Volker Spengler, who beats the band with his portrayal of Ernst, in Satansbraten. Ernst is not just retarded and perverted, but he is consumed with a unique sexual problem – his urge to have sex with houseflies.

Read more: Volker Spengler in Satan’s Brew

Barbara Sukowa in Europa (1991)

‘You will now listen to my voice. My voice will help you, and guide you still deeper into Europa.’ So is the stunning opening to Europa in the world-famous voice of Max von Sydow, as he describes the journey of film, of life and of our own internal fantasy. It’s deep stuff! And one of the best openings there has ever been in film - really!

Read more: Barbara Sukowa in Europa (1991)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Effi Briest

 

Maybe Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s novel adaptations, Effi Briest and Berlin Alexanderplatz, were more dear to him than other projects. In both cases Fassbinder spent many years conceptualising the filmed versions of the books, and in both cases, he takes the role of narrator, making him not just author, but also many of the characters at different times.

Read more: Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Effi Briest

Ingrid Caven in Satan’s Brew

Ingrid Caven came to represent something both scary and desirable in the films of RW Fassbinder; and she is also a woman who is less likely than any other Fassbinder actress to be a victim of the generally oppressive situations the director creates. Or maybe not.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in Satan’s Brew

Lou Castel in A Bullet for the General (1966)

I don't think that anybody knows how many spaghetti westerns there are, but a website I really enjoy looking at, which is thorough on the subject, is Roger's Spaghetti Western Site. Plus, I have to recommend Fistful of Locations for great browsing interest; both are fantastic really.  The Colombian born actor Lou Castel made quite a few spaghettis in his day, but you get much more than Lou castel in A Bullet for the General; you also get Klaus Kiniski, and the boss of the genre himself - Gian Maria Volonté (1933-1994)

Read more: Lou Castel in A Bullet for the General (1966)

Bob Dorsay in In a Year of 13 Moons

What happens in empty office buildings in West Germany in 1978? People go there to kill themselves. Elvira’s journey through the building is quite condensed, but one feels that she could go on a lot longer, having Franz Kafka like adventures in endless empty rooms.

Read more: Bob Dorsay in In a Year of 13 Moons

Ingrid Caven in Satan’s Brew

Ingrid Caven came to represent something both scary and desirable in the films of RW Fassbinder; and she is also a woman who is less likely than any other Fassbinder actress to be a victim of the generally oppressive situations the director creates. Or maybe not.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in Satan’s Brew

Brigitte Mira in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

The subject of work features in Fassbinder, but a 1960s political education in Europe featured much more Marxism than it does these days. From the many office scenes in World on a Wire, to the fairground in Fox and His Friends, and the amazing scenes of draftsmen at work in Why Does Her R Run Amok — and not forgetting the entire of Eight Hours Are Not a Day (Acht Stunden sind kein Tag) we regularly see the minutiae of labour in Fassbinder films – and here so, once more at the start of Mother Kusters goes to heaven.

Read more: Brigitte Mira in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

Armin Mueller-Stahl in The International (2009)

The business of film is to produce satisfactory, profitable and widely acceptable product.  That’s why they call it an industry and not an art, and that’s why films like The International become acceptable, when in fact they’re not.  I also feel that audiences are corralled by productions that have in themselves not been made for the correct reasons.

Read more: Armin Mueller-Stahl in The International (2009)

Hans Hirschmuller in Leibe ist Kalter als der Tod

Love is Colder than Death opens with a Godardian blank wall; two thugs are waiting for an interview. Hans Hirschmuller starts the action off by approaching Fassbinder for a cigarette, and is beaten up for his trouble. It’s crazy and spontaneous acting, and a typical non-realistic and almost silly Fassbinder portrayal of violence.

Read more: Hans Hirschmuller in Leibe ist Kalter als der Tod

Brigitte Mira in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

The subject of work features in Fassbinder, but a 1960s political education in Europe featured much more Marxism than it does these days. From the many office scenes in World on a Wire, to the fairground in Fox and His Friends, and the amazing scenes of draftsmen at work in Why Does Her R Run Amok — and not forgetting the entire of Eight Hours Are Not a Day (Acht Stunden sind kein Tag) we regularly see the minutiae of labour in Fassbinder films – and here so, once more at the start of Mother Kusters goes to heaven.

Read more: Brigitte Mira in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

Brigitte Mira in The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

The entire of the Enigma of Kaspar Hauser by Werner Herzog is predicated on the weirdo acting skills of its star, Bruno Schleinstein, known universally as Bruno S.  Schleinstein, who died in 2010, was something of an ideal subject, being individual, compelling and talented in ways that trained actors can only dream of — although the downside of this is that viewers spend far too long watching his antics, at the expense of the main dramatic goals.

Read more: Brigitte Mira in The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

Y Sa Lo in Satansbraten

Y Sa Lo plays a prostitute called Lana von Meyerbeer in Satansbraten– with the memorable opening line: ‘After my dad beat my mum to death and hanged himself, Uncle Edward became my guardian and he raped me - ’

Read more: Y Sa Lo in Satansbraten

Ingrid Caven in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Ingrid Caven (surely not playing a prostitute?) receives the bad news of her father’s death in the unlikely setting of the nightclub where she is a hostess. Although Corrina and Frau Kusters don’t get on, their relationship is deep and tender and Caven makes it so with her weariness; her beauty; her sarcasm; and a suggesting that she is tired, tired of everything.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

Udo Kier in 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).

Read more: Udo Kier in The Story of O (1975)

Katherina Buchhammer in Satan’s Brew

In Satansbraten (1976), the dysfunctional writer Walter Kranz lives in a separate society, populated by screw-ups, perverts, self-abusers, hippies and others who for any reason, are antisocial and misfit. This is because he is a writer, and as such unfit for general society - or above it in his case, so he believes.

Read more: Katherina Buchhammer in Satan’s Brew

Ingrid Caven in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Ingrid Caven (surely not playing a prostitute?) receives the bad news of her father’s death in the unlikely setting of the nightclub where she is a hostess. Although Corrina and Frau Kusters don’t get on, their relationship is deep and tender and Caven makes it so with her weariness; her beauty; her sarcasm; and a suggesting that she is tired, tired of everything.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

Ingrid Caven in In a Year of 13 Moons

I have never had any doubt as to which is my favourite scene in In a Year of 13 Moons; it is Ingrid Caven telling Volker Spengler a fairy tale – the high point of that being the way that she says ‘snail’ – Schnecke.  Ingrid Caven, repeating the word Schnecke – it’s all I ask for.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in In a Year of 13 Moons

Brigitte Mira in Satan’s Brew

Satansbraten is a film of highs – and when each high is reached in terms of comedy or situation, it is played out for ten minutes, until everything seems calm again, and it’s then that we receive the next shock – usually in the form of a moment of realisation for Kranz. One of these comes when Ernst is upset later on, sad that his mother may be ill, and Kranz is suddenly reminded he has parents of his own. This is a great opportunity for him to get some more money, so off he goes to rob them.

Read more: Brigitte Mira in Satan’s Brew

Margit Carstensen in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

Both Karlheinz Böhm and Margit Carstensen appear in the first major ensemble scene of Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven. They do so to demonstrate the fact that where you find the press, you’ll also find political parties. Simultaneously addressed, is the fact that where you find personal disaster among the public, the political parties are often there too.

Read more: Margit Carstensen in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

Ingrid Caven in In a Year of 13 Moons

I have never had any doubt as to which is my favourite scene in In a Year of 13 Moons; it is Ingrid Caven telling Volker Spengler a fairy tale – the high point of that being the way that she says ‘snail’ – Schnecke.  Ingrid Caven, repeating the word Schnecke – it’s all I ask for.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in In a Year of 13 Moons

Brigitte Mira in Satan’s Brew

Satansbraten is a film of highs – and when each high is reached in terms of comedy or situation, it is played out for ten minutes, until everything seems calm again, and it’s then that we receive the next shock – usually in the form of a moment of realisation for Kranz. One of these comes when Ernst is upset later on, sad that his mother may be ill, and Kranz is suddenly reminded he has parents of his own. This is a great opportunity for him to get some more money, so off he goes to rob them.

Read more: Brigitte Mira in Satan’s Brew

Irm Hermann in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven

In Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven Irm Hermann plays the heartless and soulless wife Helene. ‘Father is sick of your salads,’ says Brigitte Mira to Irm Hermann at the start of the film, introducing yet another frosty and unbearably unloved character sketch by Irm Hermann. Hermann is without doubt, Fassbinder’s favourite cold lady, expressing disdain, stupidity, and all the worst of local gossip and public opinion – and she does it so well that we are also quite terrified of her.

Read more: Irm Hermann in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven