The culminating work of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s foreshortened career,
Berlin Alexanderplatz had its premiere on West German TV in 1980; it opened here theatrically in 1983, a year after the filmmaker’s death. Adapted from the 1929 novel by Alfred Döblin (itself the culminating literary expression of Weimar Germany), this 14-part miniseries follows the good-natured, if violent, ex-murderer Franz Biberkopf through the dark carnival of Berlin’s lower depths. Walter Benjamin praised the book as the “final phase of the old bourgeois psychological novel.” Fassbinder took it more personally. The miniseries is fueled and consumed by the 33-year-old filmmaker’s identification with the material—he wrote an original epilogue projecting Biberkopf into a phantasmagoric post-Weimar future complete with Janis Joplin. MOMA, April 10–15.
Also: Who knew it was the taxi’s centennial? As a former cabbie, I gotta love the idea of IFC’s seven-film mini-fest (weekends throughout April), Fares to Remember. The opening bill juxtaposes Harold Lloyd’s cheerful hack in Speedy with Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle. Also worth hailing, the 1932 Taxi! with James Cagney talkin’ Yiddish, the screwball comedy
Midnight, Mona Lisa (story of a chauffeur, actually), and Jim Jarmusch’s cosmic Night on Earth.
BAM’s Best of 2006 includes Manoel de Oliveira’s Belle Toujours and Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Climates—as well as things harder to see, like the 2006 Cannes walkout champ, Pedro Costa’s epic contemplation of Lisbon immigrants Colossal Youth. Among the premieres: Richard Wong’s Colma: The Musical (2006), billed as the first Asian-American musical since Flower Drum Song. April 4–24.