CRUELLY, MADLY, DEEPLY

CRUELLY_MADLY_DEEPLY_fassbinder
CRUELLY_MADLY_DEEPLY_fassbinder

Between 1969 and his death at age 37 in 1982, brilliant enfant terrible German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder made 30 films and numerous television productions, including the 15-hour mini-series BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ. Even as he averaged two to three films per year, his work maintained a meticulous, rigorous style, marked by stunning shot composition, laser-precision blocking and deep characterization ranging from bitterly crystal clear to hypnotically allusive. Fassbinder returned to the same themes and fixations again and again: money, sex, pride and cruelty. Postwar Germany is often his cinematic landscape - the place of drained, falsified dreams where his characters make the most of things and act with their own best interests in mind. Fassbinder himself was plain, drug-addicted and gay, and had much in common with the outsiders he created. He was notorious for the same cruel nature seen in his films, and behaved heartlessly toward those who loved and surrounded him. Still, over the course of his short, astonishing career, he collected a team of dazzling recurring players, including cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and actresses Hanna Schygulla, Margit Carstensen, Brigitte Mira and Irm Hermann. Whether the strain of working with the director was worth the staggering output is hard to say - Ballhaus “burned out” after The Marriage of Maria Braun and went to work with Martin Scorsese. But, as film critic and ardent fan Roger Ebert wrote, “Fassbinder was a genius. That much everyone admitted.” On the 30th anniversary of his death, the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles unveils a 16-film retrospective of the work of Rainer Werner Fassbinder from May 31 to June 14.