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Rainer Werner Fassbinder

WHAT CAN YOU SAY about a fat, ugly sadomasochist who terrorized everyone around him, drove his lovers to suicide, drank two daily bottles of Rémy, popped innumerable pills while stuffing himself like a pig, then croaked from an overdose at 37? Marlene Dietrich in Touch of Evil probably said it all: “He was some kind of man. What does it matter what you say about people?”

Anyway, there’s nothing you can say about Rainer Werner Fassbinder that he didn’t say about himself (in countless interviews and the horrific self-portrait in Germany in Autumn, 1978). He was the faithful mirror of an ugly world that has grown uglier since his death, without his brilliance, his starving soul, his exorbitantly calculated persona. The contemporary-model artist, countering a century of both exalting and punitive myths, is a sensibly meretricious decorator, good at business, driven by mortgage payments rather

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