For one reason or another, since LACMA’s series ten years or so ago, fans of German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder have had few chances to see much of his work on the big screen. Now, to mark the thirtieth anniversary of his death (June 10), the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles is celebrating this most individual of film-makers in suitably expansive style, with a series of 16 first-rate titles, between May 31 and June 14, 2012.
Fassbinder was intense and prolific. Over 13 years (1969-1982) he directed 34 feature films for cinema and television, as well as a couple of documentaries, a remarkably naked omnibus contribution, and four multi-part television films, culminating in the majestic, 15-hour "Berlin Alexanderplatz" (1980). He also enjoyed an outsized personal reputation, as a fiercely intelligent, manipulative, drug-addicted workaholic, with a lurid gay love-life, and an entourage/commune/circus of collaborators/lovers/victims, who recur in the credits of film after film. He died in his sleep aged 37, from a combination of cocaine abuse, punishing work-rate and, perhaps, despair.