Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fassbinder: To Love Without Demands (2015) NewFest 2015

Christian Braad Thomsen uses his many interviews with prolific director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, as well as interviews with friends and family in order to make what can only be a truly amazing portrait of the director and his psyche. This is a look at the man and his films that is completely unlike any other film biography of anyone I've ever seen.

For those who don't know Fassbinder was a German film director who made films ove an extremely brief period of time. Working over roughly a 15 year period made and /or appeared something on the order of sixty films plus two television series.He also wrote and starred in works for the theater. When he died a friend said he died of an overdose of work because he never stopped creating. He was so influential that his work helped to reinvent German and European cinema. (If you don't know his work go to the Criterion collection and buy everything they have released)

Thomsen's film is a one of a kind masterpiece. A portrait of the mind and soul of Fassbinder the film kind of throws out your typical film biography in that the film isn't full of clips from Fassbinder's films. yes there are clips, but they are not willie nillie ones. they are carefully chosen to illustrate a particular point.More often than not we see stills from the films which allows the endless audio of Fassbinder to be heard with out distraction.

Perhaps the center piece of the film is an interview Thomsen did with Fassbinder at Cannes in 1978. The interview was done the morning after a night of hard partying and Fassbinder was clearly hungover. Sitting with a huge glass of whiskey the director talks about a variety of subject that apparently never had before. Thomsen thought the director looked terrible and was so afraid that he came off badly that he buried the footage, never looking at it for over 30 years. However when he went back to look at it he found that he had a real treasure.

For me the joy of the film is that it makes me want to go back and re-watch all of Fassbinder's films again. Seeing the director talk about his life and ideas suddenly made all of his films snap magically into focus. I suddenly began to understand what he was doing and why. Additionally I want to see this film again because I know I missed stuff. I love when a film is not a one and done sort of film. I love that you have to go back and study it. Since Fassbinder's films are like that I find it delightful that his biography is that way as well.

This is an absolute must see for any fan of the director or anyone who love cinema.

The film play tomorrow night at NewFest in New York. For tickets and more information go here. I've read that the film will be hitting VOD and the usual outlets once the festival circuit is done.
The hung over Fassbinder in Cannes 1978

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