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Repertory Picks

Candy-Colored Fassbinder in Madison

Since September, the Cinematheque at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has devoted its Sunday-afternoon screening series at the Chazen Museum of Art to the work of New German Cinema icon Rainer Werner Fassbinder. And this weekend, the retrospective’s second to last, the filmmaker’s Lola struts onto the screen. Released in 1981, the year before Fassbinder’s death, the film formed part of the director’s internationally acclaimed BRD Trilogy, along with The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978) and Veronika Voss (1982). An homage to Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, Lola centers around a cabaret-singing, gold-digging temptress (Barbara Sukowa) who seeks to make her way up in the world by playing a corrupt developer (Mario Adorf) against an upright commissioner (Armin Mueller-Stahl). It is through three very memorable performances that this boldly colored, fifties-set melodrama channels its caustic satire of capitalism. “Unusually for a Fassbinder film, this trio keeps upping the ante with every encounter, pushing the movie into a behavioral free-for-all, an acting Olympics,” writes critic Kent Jones in his liner essay for our edition of the BRD Trilogy. “They set a breathless pace for the tart, air-filled movie around them.”

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