Archive for Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Favourite Five Series: RAINER WERNER FASSBINDER

Posted in Favourite Five Series, Germany, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2015 by goregirl

What I’ve Seen: Katzelmacher (1969), Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? (1970), The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971), The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), Satan’s Brew (1976), The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Lili Marleen (1981), Whity (1971), Martha (1974), Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), The American Soldier (1970), Beware of a Holy Whore (1971), In a Year with 13 Moons (1978), Querelle (1982), Chinese Roulette (1976), I Only Want You To Love Me (1976), Lola (1981), Love is Colder Than Death (1969), Pioneers in Ingolstadt (1971), Veronika Voss (1982), World on a Wire (1973), Gods of the Plague (1970)

I posted a list of my favourite directors in July 2012 and Rainer Werner Fassbinder made the forty-seven hole. If I was to do this same list today it would look considerably different; Fassbinder would easily make my top ten. Since compiling that director list I have seen fifteen additional titles from the Fassbinder. I have now seen a total of twenty-two films from the director. While I would hardly say that makes me a Fassbinder expert it certainly gives me enough titles to compile my favourite five. Many of the same talented faces turned up again and again through my Fassbinder journey; Irm Hermann, Günther Kaufmann, Volker Spengler, Ulli Lommel, Ingrid Cavan and Katrin Schaake to name a few. Fassbinder himself is in the vast majority of the films on my list in both main roles and brief appearances. When I think of the cinema of Fassbinder I think style, drama, humor and a one of kind presentation that makes his films a viewing experience quite unlike any other. And perhaps, above all, I think of the performances of Hanna Schygulla and Margit Carstensen. Both actresses have been cast in lead roles and the strength they bring to their characters is something phenomenal. Fassbinder’s 1972 film The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant was the first I seen from the director and it made a lasting impression on me. The film takes place in one room; the bedroom and studio of Petra Von Kant. Petra is a successful clothing designer but an unhappy woman. She spends most of her time alone with the exception of her assistant Marlene who she consistently berates and abuses. We learn early in the film that Petra’s marriage ended badly, she has a strained relationship with her mother whom she supports financially and a teenage daughter who lives at boarding school. Her cousin Sidone visits one afternoon and introduces her to Karin. Petra is immediately smitten with Karin who she takes under her wing. Karin is new in town and Petra intends to help her embark on a modelling career. There is an unspoken commitment expected from Karin who is painfully aware of Petra’s love for her. Karin promises nothing and makes no apologies for her aloof behavior; she really appears quite detached from the situation. This drives Petra crazy and when Karin inevitably leaves her it pushes Petra right over the edge. Every one of the all-female cast puts their best foot forward in this emotionally-charged melodrama. Petra’s eccentric dwelling and designs reflect her personality in this wonderfully organized yet chaotic way. It is easy to write Petra off as a crazy bitch but I don’t think that is entirely fair. Petra is a smart, successful woman who has allowed her own drama to get the better of her. Margit Carstensen’s performance is intense and poignant but never sympathetic; you do not feel sorry for Petra. It is very much what makes the film work for me, no empathy just bitter tears as its title suggests. Twenty-two Fassbinder films later and The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant is still ultimately my favourite by the director which is why it is the first film on this list. Running a very close second in my heart is another Margit Carstensen lead role from 1974; Martha. Officially Martha was actually a made for TV movie; despite this I feel it is some of Fassbinder’s best work so I have no problem with including it on this list. Martha, like Petra, is a troubled, lonely woman who is not immune to emotional hysteria although this is where the parallels end. Martha is a quiet woman approaching middle-age and unmarried. She has been charged with the care of her ungrateful and nasty mother after her father dies during a trip to Rome. Martha’s boss is in love with her but she does not reciprocate and turns down his offer of marriage. However, as her mother’s insults and taunts escalate she becomes increasingly desperate. Martha dreads the idea of becoming an old spinster left to care for an icy and uncaring mother. She finds solace in the arms of Helmut; he eventually proposes and she accepts. Martha’s unhappiness spirals into a nightmare of mental and physical abuse as Helmut takes over every last aspect of Martha’s life. Helmut has her mother committed, offers her resignation to her employer (a job she loves) and forces her to move from her family home. Helmut essentially keeps Martha prisoner with threats and subtle mind games and she eventually falls apart. It all ends in the worst way possible that had me cursing Fassbinder and calling him a bastard! That bloody ending! Helmut is worse than any villain in a horror film; he is one of the most unlikable characters I have ever stumbled upon. Karlheinz Böhm is brilliant in the role of Helmut and Margit Carstensen is absolutely devastating as Martha. There was no doubt in my mind what three of the five films on this list would be and Martha holds a firm placing for me right behind Bitter Tears. The aforementioned third film also features Margit Carstensen but in a more minor role; Fassbinder’s 1973 sci-fi odyssey World on a Wire. World on a Wire is based on the novel Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye and stars Klaus Löwitsch as central character Fred Stiller. The film was initially made for TV and was presented in two parts. The film itself is over three and a half hours long; and yes, I have included two made-for-TV films on my list. What of it? Professor Vollmer is the technical director of a new supercomputer program created for the Institute of Cybernetics and Future Science. The program is a simulation of an alternate universe whose inhabitants interact as human beings in a world not unlike our own. Vollmer begins to suspect other forces are controlling the project and becomes increasingly paranoid when he suddenly dies under mysterious circumstances. Vollmer’s colleague Fred Stiller is charged with taking over Vollmer’s position. Disconcerting events begin to surface the minute Stiller is in his new position. Gunther Lause, who worked with Vollmer has valuable information to share with Stiller but suddenly disappears. The deeper Stiller investigates the more surreal and threatening the program becomes forcing him to flee his position. Eventually the two worlds collide in the most fantastical way. World on a Wire may be Fassbinder’s most impressive film visually. Without any special effects he manages to construct sets and set pieces that perfectly capture a futuristic and other-worldly feel. Modern sterile fixtures including plenty of mirrors and other reflective surfaces are used to great effect. The performances, especially Klaus Löwitsch are fantastic and the outstanding story kept me intrigued every last minute of its runtime. Paranoia, betrayal and love in a futuristic hell like only Fassbinder could create. Choosing the last two films for this list of five was more challenging than I expected it would be. I volleyed around six films and was so torn I re-watched four of them (I will discuss the films I left off the list a little later). The next film to make the cut was Fassbinder’s 1973 film Whity starring Günther Kaufmann. Kaufmann had minor roles in several Fassbinder films but this is the first I watched that had the actor in a lead role. After completing my fifty favourite director list, Fassbinder was one of the first I embarked to see more from and Whity was the beginning of that journey. One could argue that they find something undiscovered in every subsequent viewing of a Fassbinder film; I could not disagree with this statement. Whity, for me, is the film in Fassbinder’s oeuvre that I discover something new each time I visit it. Kaufmann plays Whity; Butler and servant to the depraved and dysfunctional Nicholson family. When not servicing the Nicholsons Whity spends his time at a saloon in the company of his lover Hanna who performs there nightly. Whity is in fact a Western melodrama; a period piece that resembles something akin to a warped version of Dallas. Whity is humiliated and abused by the Nicholsons much to the chagrin of Hanna who does not understand his loyalty to this most heinous of bloodlines. The colors used in Whity are particularly lush even inside the gloomy Nicholson’s residence. The Nicholsons themselves however look like death warmed over! The foundation chosen for the family members gives their skin tone the look of a walking corpse. They look as sickly on the outside as they are on the inside. The Nicholsons played by Ron Randell, Katrin Schaake, Harry Baer and Ulli Lommel are convincingly nefarious and perfect but the spotlight belongs to Günther Kaufmann. Kaufmann plays Whity with a subtle pathos relayed through gestures more than words that I found wholly compelling. The lovely Hanna, played by Hanna Schygulla, is the only light in Whity’s life and she shines bright. Whity is betrayal, perversion, delusion, influence, dominance and at the end of it all, love; a beautifully warped and wicked bit of cinema. Hanna Schygulla is the titular character in the final film on my list; Fassbinder’s 1979 film The Marriage of Maria Braun. To truly appreciate Hanna Schygulla as an actress I think that The Marriage of Maria Braun is mandatory viewing. The Marriage of Maria Braun is the first in Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) a trio of films that focus on the life of a German woman during (and/or following) World War II. Maria marries a soldier named Hermann Braun whom is called to duty immediately following their union. Maria restlessly awaits her husband’s return but instead is informed of his death. Maria takes a job as a hostess where she meets Bill. Meanwhile, Hermann has returned from the dead and catches Maria and Bill post-coitus. The two men fight and Maria smashes a bottle over Bill’s head inadvertently killing him. This does not bode well for the newly reunited Brauns. Once again they are separated when Hermann takes responsibility for the death and goes to prison. Maria meets a wealthy industrialist who offers her a job and becomes his lover; Maria also continues to make regular visits to Hermann in prison. Fassbinder has written some truly awesome roles for female characters; this list is a testament to that. Schygulla’s Maria character is an intelligent and sassy woman who easily adapts to the business world and becomes a success. Maria is as strong as she is sentimental and despite everything, in her way, she stays faithful to Hermann. Schygulla is confident and poised as the bold Maria. And that ending! Again a Fassbinder ending that left my mouth agape. What is with Fassbinder and those nasty, crazy finales? To recap, my five favourite Fassbinder films with cast list and images:

THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT (1972)
Cast: Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake, Irm Hermann, Gisela Fackeldey, Eva Mattes

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MARTHA (1974)
Cast: Margit Carstensen, Karlheinz Böhm, Barbara Valentin, Peter Chatel, Gisela Fackeldey, Adrian Hoven

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WORLD ON A WIRE (1973)
Cast: Klaus Löwitsch, Barbara Valentin, Mascha Rabben, Karl Heinz Vosgerau, Wolfgang Schenck, Günter Lamprecht, Ulli Lommel, Adrian Hoven, Margit Carstensen

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WHITY (1973)
Cast: Günther Kaufmann, Ron Randell, Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake, Harry Baer, Ulli Lommel, Elaine Baker

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THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN (1979)
Cast: Hanna Schygulla, Klaus Löwitsch, Ivan Desny, Gisela Uhlen, Elisabeth Trissenaar, Gottfried John, Hark Bohm, George Eagles

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I mentioned earlier that there were four other titles that were strong candidates for this list. The first of the four is Fassbinder’s 1971 film Beware of a Holy Whore; which made my list of favourite films watched in 2014 (Fassbinder’s Martha and World on a Wire also made the same list). The film is about the making of Whity and the drama on and especially off set. Beware of a Holy Whore is full of humor, colorful sexy sets and costumes and jam-packed full of Fassbinder regulars. A favourite among Fassbinder fans and well worth checking out. The second candidate is Fassbinder’s 1978 film In a Year with 13 Moons; chronicling the last few days of cross-dresser Elvira. Elvira visits a slaughterhouse, the convent where she grew up, and an old lover among other interactions. It is very sad and beautiful and Volker Spengler gives a heart-aching performance as Elvira. Kudos also to Ingrid Cavan who is especially charming as Elvira’s best friend. The third candidate was Fassbinder’s 1976 film Chinese Roulette. It was really tough leaving this one off of the list. Chinese Roulette is a guessing game the family and acquaintances play together in the film’s final chapter. Ariane and Gerhard Christ have both been engaged in long term affairs and make arrangements to meet their lovers at their house in the country. Needless to say things get awkward when the two couples meet face to face. They make the best of the situation at least until their manipulative pre-teen daughter decides to also join the party. A solid story with smart and seething dialog and outstanding performances from Anna Karina, Margit Carstensen, Ulli Lommel, Volker Spengler, Alexander Allerson, Macha Meril and Andrea Schober. The final consideration was Fassbinder’s 1982 film Veronika Voss. The film is loosely based on the career of Sybille Schmitz. Veronika Voss was a formerly successful actress who now struggles to get roles. She meets a reporter named Robert who becomes caught up in the complicated emotional rollercoaster that is Ms. Voss’s life. This is the second film in Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun was the first and Lola is the third) a trio of films that focus on the life of a German woman during (and/or following) World War II. A gorgeous black and white masterpiece with a poignant performance from Rosel Zech as Veronika Voss. In reality, I have enjoyed every Fassbinder film I have seen with the exception of I Only Want You To Love Me (1976) and would recommend checking out any and all of them! I bought myself Criterion’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant a new release from this past January. I also treated myself to the Criterion Eclipse series Early Fassbinder set. Fassbinder is a force of nature whose work can affect my emotional state unlike any other.

I Kill Them – Antiteater: Music from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Western Melodrama WHITY (1971) – played during the opening credits.

VIFF, Vacation & Good Vibrations

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2013 by goregirl

After moving stuff into my new apartment on October 2nd I went to my first film of the festival. Starting the Vancouver International Film Festival out with the impossibly boring Yumen was unpleasant and the short Lovers Are Artists (Part 2) that preceded it did not help the cause. We fared better the second evening with A Touch of Sin; a well-made and well-acted film with some solid twists. It did not move me much just the same. The documentary Liv and Ingmar had a contrived setup and flowery music but thankfully its talented and lovely subject Liv Ullman was a charming tour guide through her life with director Ingmar Bergman. And I did like the film clips that were included. I quite enjoyed Liv and Ingmar despite its flaws. Later that same night it was Bruno Dumont’s Camille Claudel 1915. A gorgeous film filled with bleakness and hopelessness exceptionally acted by Juliette Binoche. No complaints and that said no reason to re-watch it either. I was not feeling super enthusiastic about the choices made for the festival. I had yet to be wowed by anything and unfortunately Wolf Children the next film in the queue did not change that. I liked the story and the animation is quite nice, especially the environments. I even got teary eyed in the finale. Unfortunately I also found it too sentimental too often, I didn’t care for the sappy music and it felt long particularly through the middle. The highlight of the festival was 3x3D and the short Cochemare that preceded it. A trippy, sexual, extra sensory 3D trip taken by a female in a space station. The visuals were hypnotizing. Also in the category of hypnotizing is Peter Greenaway’s stunning visual history lesson Just in Time; the first short of the trilogy 3x3D. It is one of the most stunning uses of 3D film I have seen in a theatre (which is admittedly a pretty low number). Just in Time is an absolute visual extravaganza. Edgar Pêra’s Cinesapiens is another visceral pleaser; a wacky, wonderful and humorous short about people who watch movies. They usually save the best for last in anthologies but in the case of 3x3D, director Jean-Luc Godard’s entry The Three Disasters was my least favourite. Godard makes little use of the 3D technology and his is certainly the least visually appealing. Overall 3x3D was rather unique and special; it makes me sad I will never be able to experience this film the same way again. The next film was the alarmingly dull Halley. This was the stake to the film festival heart for me. I seen this with two friends and the three of us looked at each other afterwards in exasperation. Why in the hell did we sit through that? We could have been watching Doris Wishman films! Any enthusiasm I had for the festival had been sucked from my marrow. We bailed on The Oxbow Cure. It was not getting very good feedback and I had enough film disappointments. While the festival choices were a mixed bag with a couple huge letdowns the films watched afterwards were the absolute cat’s ass.

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I had watched three Rainer Werner Fassbinder films just before the festival started; In a Year of 13 Moons, Whity and Chinese Roulette. I love all three but I was especially smitten with In a Year of 13 Moons. There was serious overindulgence in Doris Wishman with Bad Girls Go to Hell, Another Day, Another Man, Indecent Desires, The Sex Perils of Paulette, My Brother’s Wife and Too Much Too Often. I enjoyed them all in varying degrees but the real stand-outs were Another Day, Another Man, Bad Girls Go to Hell and the queen bitch of them all Indecent Desires. I freaking loved Indecent Desires.

Indecent Desires

Also watched during the holiday, Michael Findlay’s The Curse of her Flesh which has one of my most favourite finales of recent memory. I will definitely be checking out more Michael Findlay stuff. I watched a fourth Fassbinder flick; Querelle which was brilliant. I also took in the outstanding The Name of the Game is Kill as well as the solid little horror entry The Love Butcher; both of which I will be reviewing before the end of the month. Also thrown in the mix was the badly cut and censored pseudo XXX comedy musical Let My Puppets Come (I will be watching the uncut version in the immediate future). Finally I discovered a very entertaining video review show on YouTube called Unboxed, Watched and Reviewed along with the magazine Cinema Sewer both thanks to my friend David. Cinema Sewer harkens from my very city; Vancouver B.C. Author and artist Robin Bougie works at one of my favourite spots in the city Videomatica Sales.

Cinema Sewer

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It was also my birthday while I was off and I got some spectacular gifts this year from my most awesome friends.

First of all, this pot of gold published in 1974; The Films of Boris Karloff

Boris Karloff

Than this very cool The Shining shirt

the shining shirt

And this beautiful graphic novel treasure; Madwoman of the Sacred Heart illustrated by Moebius and written by Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, Santa Sangre, The Holy Mountain, Fando and Lis)…

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Madwoman of the Sacred Heart

The Film Festival was a disappointment and I didn’t have a refrigerator that worked for my first six days in my new place but I can not remember the last time I felt this relaxed and happy. I even did some touristy stuff; check out my Tumblr post of images taken at The Vancouver Maritime Museum; Tattoos & Scrimshaw “The Art of the Sailor” Exhibit. Oh yeah, and Goregirl’s Dungeon has a Tumblr page so be sure to visit every single day!

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Goregirl’s Dungeon on TUMBLR

Posted in movies with tags , , on October 8, 2013 by goregirl

Continuing my Vancouver International Film Festival viewings with 3x3D this past Sunday and yesterday’s Halley. Today’s film is Oxbow Cure with the final film tomorrow You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet. I’ll have a summary of my thoughts on my VIFF experience Thursday. I have been watching loads of Fassbinder and Doris Wishman films in the evening which has been a particular treat. Truth be told, thus far I have enjoyed my evening films far more than my VIFF choices. Also….I am now on TUMBLR!

Another Day Another Man

DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #50 – #46

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2012 by goregirl

Film is a huge part of my life. I can not seem to prevent myself from introducing it into a conversation with everyone I meet. Once in a while I run into someone whose taste in film so violently opposes my own I want to glove slap them. I do try my best to be open-minded and can usually find some common ground. It surprises me a little that so few people I discuss film with know directors by name. The underappreciated director does not generally make the tabloids and I guess in turn doesn’t make many people’s radars. Personally, I am all about the director as I suspect many a cinephile is. I follow director’s work fervently. If I loved one of the director’s films, it is a guarantee I will see another; those who score a hat trick will have a fan for life! So in honour of the director I give you my 50 favourite! I thought for this project I would mix it up a bit, so I will be counting down my 50 Favourite directors from ALL GENRES! I will be posting these lists in groups of five a couple times a week.

My 50 favourite directors #50 – #46

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

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#50. Roy Ward Baker

What I’ve Seen: Inferno (1953), A Night to Remember (1958), Quatermass and the Pit (1967), The Anniversary (1968), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracula (1970), Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971), Asylum (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), The Monster Club (1981)

British director Roy Ward Baker has a list of 33 feature length films on IMDB. Baker made his last full length feature film, Monster Club in 1981 and directed a number of TV shows before retiring from the industry in 1992. He died at the age of 93 October 5, 2010 in London England. 93!! Holy crap! That is a ripe old age! Baker makes this list thanks to his director status on 3 of my favourite Hammer Studio films Quatermass and the Pit, The Vampire Lovers and Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde. All three are films to which I gave a perfect score. But just look at that list of films! What great fun! Okay, A Night to Remember can’t really be considered “great fun”.  A Night to Remember is about the Titanic disaster without the cheesy love story; not to mention a solid film. Baker is a superb filmmaker who brought excitement to the screen and knew how to get the best from his cast. There are a number of Baker’s films I have yet to see, although some of the subject matters are not of particular interest to me, there is still room for exploration.

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#49. Carl Theodor Dreyer

What I’ve Seen: Blade of Satans Bog (1921), The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Vampyr (1932), Day of Wrath (1943), Master of the House (1925), Gertrud (1964)

Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s made just 14 full length feature films in his career. I have seen 6 of the 14 and gave The Passion of Joan of Arc and Day of Wrath a perfect score and the other four films a 4/5! A pretty bloody impressive track record! Seriously, The Passion of Joan of Arc is one of the best films I have seen. A wrought with emotion character study that must be experienced. All of Dreyer’s films have a certain surreal vibe even those with a fairly straight up narrative. Dreyer died at the age of 79 March 20, 1968. I look forward to checking out the other films on his list, if they are half as good as The Passion of Joan of Arc they will still be very watchable!

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#48. Jean Renoir

What I’ve Seen: La Chienne (1931), Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), Le crime de Monsieur Lange (1936), La grande illusion (1937), La Bête Humaine (1938), The Rules of the Game (1939)

French director Jean Renoir has 32 full length feature films listed on IMDB. I have seen a miniscule six of these, but bloody hell what a magnificent sextet they are! I must admit, I only seen my first Renoir film 4 years ago. I was picking up a Jean Cocteau DVD from the library and got in a conversation about foreign films with the guy behind the counter. Turns out Renoir is one of his favourite directors and he actually seemed disgusted that I had never seen a film from the director. He insisted I rented The Rules of the Game, claiming it was one of the greatest satires ever made. I don’t usually allow myself to be muscled by men working at the library, but I appreciated his passion. WOW! He wasn’t kidding; The Rules of the Game is simply perfect. I loved all six of Renoir’s flicks! All beautifully filmed, engrossing and character-driven studies of French society and humanity in general. Renoir died February 12, 1979 at the age of 84 and left behind an impressive legacy on celluloid. Clearly I have tons of fertile ground left to sow in Renoir’s field!

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#47. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

What I’ve Seen: Katzelmacher (1969), Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? (1970), The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971), The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), Satan’s Brew (1976), The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Lili Marleen (1981)

German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder made 23 full length feature films and a ton of TV movies during his short career. Fassbinder died June 10, 1982 at the age of 37 of an overdose. I’ve read quite a bit about Fassbinder over the years, and he seemed like a pretty complicated guy. The characters in his films seem as conflicted as he himself was. Meditations on sexuality, racism, oppression, family and the like are knitted through all his films. I have seen seven of his titles and they are all a little quirky. His films get under my skin and his characters are not always likable but are nonetheless intriguing. I have enjoyed all of the Fassbinder films I’ve seen but I am particularly fond of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant and Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? Another director who has much juiciness left for me to bite into!

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#46. Jee-Woon Kim 

What I’ve Seen:  The Quiet Family (1998), The Foul King (2000),  A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), A Bittersweet Life (2005), The Good the Bad the Weird (2008),  I Saw the Devil (2010),

Jee-Woon Kim is alive! Yep, this is the first living director still making films to land on the list. I have seen every full-length feature South Korean filmmaker Jee-Woon Kim has directed and have given TWO of his films perfect marks (The Quiet Family and A Bittersweet Life). I don’t give a film 5/5 lightly my friends! Kim’s stylish and original films range the genres but each one contains a violent element. I eagerly anticipate each one of Kim’s new projects! His next project, The Last Stand (2013) seems completely and utterly random and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger?! To be honest it is unlikely I would bother with this film if it didn’t have Kim’s name attached. A testament to how much I enjoy and respect Kim’s work.