Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s early television series Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (1972-73) is a real discovery, a warm, funny, richly layered melodrama depicting the lives of a working class family navigating personal relationships in the context of economic and political constraints in post-war capitalist Germany.
Remarkably, despite the fame of Fassbinder’s adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), author Alfred Döblin remains little known among English-speaking readers, with few of his monumental novels translated. My brother Chris has made it his mission to change that situation with the launch of Beyond Alexanderplatz, a website devoted to his own on-going translation project.
A critical, but long-suppressed film from the New German Cinema, Volker Schlöndorff’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s first play Baal (1970) gets an impressive release on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. This aggressively unsettling film is packaged with an excellent selection of contextual supplements.
A pair of made-in-Germany genre-bending thrillers are well-served by excellent Blu-ray editions: Sam Fuller’s Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1972) from Olive Films and Wolf Gremm’s Kamikaze ’89 (1982) from Film Movement.
2016 was an impressive year for movies on disk, with a wide variety of new and classic releases, prestige productions and exploitation, and some interesting rediscoveries … too many to pick just a handful of “bests”.
Nazis and vampires have been popular subjects for exploitation for decades in a range of genres from the Gothic to epic SF and paranoid b-movie thriller.
In The Road Trilogy, one of their finest releases in some time, Criterion showcase three key early works by Wim Wenders, one of the finest filmmakers of the New German Cinema.
Although I saw fewer movies in theatres than ever, this year offered a rich array of films on disk, belying continuing prophecies of the medium’s demise in the face of on-line streaming.
The first West German film to address the futile waste of young lives in the final days of World War 2, Bernhard Wicki’s The Bridge is given an impressive Blu-ray presentation by the Criterion Collection.
In part three of my response to the Sight & Sound list of “greatest documentaries”, I finally get around to comparing my own choices with those in the magazine, finding some points of overlap and others of disagreement.