Thursday, October 24, 2013

Effi Briest (1974)

WHO: Rainer Werner Fassbinder wrote & directed.

WHAT: Of all of Fassbinder's films, Effi Briest is the only one set in the nineteenth century and based on a classic of German literature along the lines of Madame Bovary. I haven't seen the film yet, so let me link to a review by E. Barry.

WHERE/WHEN: 7:30 tonight only at Yerba Buena Center For the Arts.

WHY: One of the great pleasures of seeing, researching and posting about Fassbinder's films over the past month has been discovering writers drawn to making intensive studies of the filmmaker. Certainly he's not a director who inspires half-hearted fandom; once you've seen a film or two that has worked its magic on you, it's not unusual for his films to become an obsession. This may be why his films lend themselves so well to large-scale retrospectives, and why some of the occasions in which I've seen one of his films in isolation (Beware Of A Holy Whore six years ago at the Pacific Film Archive, and Lola three years ago at the Castro) have been far less satisfying than the screenings at this year's retrospective or the one that first exposed me to his work ten years ago, or the weekly viewings of Berlin Alexanderplatz episodes I was able to take in at SFMOMA in 2008.

A very exciting find in my online research has been the blog In A Year of 44 Films, in which a Bay Area Fassbinder fan named E. Barry has been moving through all of the director's films in chronological order, writing analysis of each one. So far she has gotten through 1979 The Marriage of Maria Braun, which means she's about three quarters done -- or would be, if she wasn't planning on writing a full review of each episode of the fourteen-part Berlin Alexanderplatz

Anyway, I strongly encourage exploration of her site. One page is particularly useful and relevant this month: her most highly-recommended selections from the current PFA/YBCA retrospective. Of the six films she marks as "The Best of the Classics", Effi Briest is the only one I haven't seen, and also the only one that doesn't align with my own list of top five or six favorites from among his films- in other words, our tastes seem to match up almost precisely, so I'm expecting to really savor this film tonight. Other Fassbinder-fan friends assure me that I'm not setting myself up for disappointment.

HOW: 35mm.

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