Howard Hampton at Artforum:
Boredom: “If I ever bore you, it’ll be with a knife,” Louise Brooks once said, a line that sums up almost about every Fassbinder movie. RWF constantly employed Brechtian distancing devices to put the strange in estrangement, piercing our defenses of “relating to” and “identifying with” characters, situations. It is the feeling that the world’s a film stage and everyone on it is standing on a trapdoor. Fassbinder’s hand is on the lever and Death is in the wings, waiting for a cue.
Personality crisis: Penman rather brilliantly embraces the Fassbinder segment in Germany in Autumn (1978) as the epitome of the man and his paradoxes; it’s a tour de force of let-it-all-hang-out psychodrama cut with the politics of depredation and exhaustion. Fassbinder prowls his apartment like a cocaine bear, strung out on angst and paranoia. It’s supposed to be about the political crisis in Germany but becomes a portrait of a private meltdown. Somehow its disjunction connects to the pathos of a person and a society, each on the verge of psychotic breaks.