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  • Satan's Brew [1976]
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Satan's Brew [1976]

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SYNOPSIS: During the "revolution of 1968," writer Walter Kranz became a minor celebrity. Now he has writer's block, but has his haranguin wife, Luise, reminds him, the rent must be paid for the apartment they share with Ernst, Walter's mentally disabled brother. Ernst torments flies and women who visit his brother, among them Adree, a librarian who admires Walter. Kranz believes that he can earn some money interviewing a prostitute, but Luise finds him quoting the poet Stefan George. Walter considers himself to be George's reincarnation, and the Kranz's life becomes increasingly hysterical. ABOUT THE DVD: This is a DVD release by ARROW FILMS for the UK market (Region 2 PAL format, which will play on all standard DVD players in the UK and the rest of Europe - buyers outside of Europe will need a multi-region player in order to view it) - The film is presented in COLOUR and FULL SCREEN format (4:3 aspect ratio) and runs for 106 minutes - the AUDIO is the original GERMAN language - SUBTITLES are in ENGLISH language only.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Satan's brew 23 Feb. 2000
By "freiwilliger" - Published on
One of the funniest, darkest movies about the sort of self-serving, pretentious rock-star types you will ever see. Kurt Raab gives an incredible performance as the dillusional poet who fancies himself the latter-day Stefan George after he writes a poem that matches George's identically and finds out from his wife and lover. He sculpts himself in the mold of George to the point of even trying the homosexual lifestyle, and failing miserably.
Quite possibly Fassbinder's best movie. I highly recommend this movie, but don't take notes on how to live from Raab's character!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great satire on self-deception, anarchy & fascism's allure 23 Aug. 2003
By J. Clark - Published on
Format: DVD
Review: Great satire on self-deception, anarchy & fascism's allure
Although Fassbinder uses humor in all of his pictures, Satan's Brew (1976) is his only out-and-out, writhing-in-laughter comedy. Extraordinarily, this is also one of his most probing looks at those frailties, and follies, of human nature which give rise to cults of personality and even, he argues, fascism. He does not spare himself either, since he mercilessly satirizes himself through the self-absorbed, sexually insatiable - and hilarious - major character, pseudo-poet Walter Kranz (Kurt Raab). This is a kinky, wickedly funny, and many-layered farce.
In its flawless and highly musical pacing, it bears comparison with such screwball comedy masterpieces as Hawks's His Girl Friday (1940). Although Fassbinder may not have used a metronome, as Hawks did, you can almost imagine him conducting, instead of directing, his ensemble. There is music in the delivery of every line, in every gesture (most broad, some very subtle), in the blocking of actors as they cross and recross each other, not to mention in every movement of the camera, and in every perfectly-timed cut. To stretch the musical analogy a bit further, the film is almost a fugue, with Walter as the principal theme, and each of his women - ranging from a wealthy masochist to a high-class hooker with shady connections and a penchant for knitting to a groveling groupie to several more, including his longsuffering wife - as a separate but interwoven melody.
Perhaps Fassbinder needed this extraordinary degree of precision to counterbalance the chaos of the film's action and emotions. All of those qualities are embodied by the uniformly brilliant cast, including many of his regular actors. Margit Carstensen stands out as the frantically self-abasing groupie; but she is virtually unrecognizable with eyeglass lenses thick as the bottoms of Coke bottles. Could this be the lead of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Martha, and Fear of Fear? Yes! But the star turn is multi-talented Kurt Raab, who worked with Fassbinder as designer, actor, co-writer, and more, on over 30 films. Raab is hysterical in the lead role of Walter; his every inflection and gesture pure comic brilliance.
The design of the film is a perfect foil for the action. It is both one of Fassbinder's most stylish pictures, with dozens of striking but subtle compositions, and most seamless, with all the elements working together in harmony. Peer Raben has written another inspired score (although the main title music here was initially heard under the climactic scene in Chinese Roulette). The music has a jaunty yet sinister quality which buoys the film, yet allows Fassbinder complete freedom in "conducting" the cast, camera movements, and editing to his own rhythms. All of these elements help create a sort of skewed parallel universe, where people's tastes in house paint colors and fashions, not to mention ultra-kinky romance, are off, and where sadomasochism, violence, and multiple forms of spewing are blithely accepted as the daily norm.
Satan's Brew? Although initially puzzling, the title is a key to the film, which is both diabolical - a self-indulgent hell on earth - and intoxicatingly funny. For an artist like Fassbinder, it should be noted that a "poet," Walter - with a free-range id - is the prime mover behind all the chaos. As Walter says at one point, "True genius lies in madness." Fassbinder, a genius at complexity and paradox, has created a world that is simultaneously wildly subversive (in its energy, colorfulness and unbridled freedom) yet deeply conservative (for who could live in such an insane society).
It is no accident that Fassbinder made Walter an avatar of the gay German romantic poet, Stefan George (1868-1933). As we know from some of the film's most hilarious scenes, he founded his own influential literary circle (but unlike Walter did not need to pay his disciples). George used symbolic imagery and precisely arranged "harmonious" words to produce aesthetic intoxication; one cannot help comparing that to Fassbinder's meticulous care in arranging the images, sounds, and rhythms in this film. Of course, George's affectations, obsession with power, and sexual hypocrisy undercut his utopian goals - a paradox which fascinated Fassbinder.
Walter, of course, never shared George's ideals; he was thrilled just being a magnet for people eager to worship him. Ultimately we are left not with persons but impersonators - from Walter to his fawning fans and beyond - whose emptiness (emotional, creative, even spiritual) demands subjugation and humiliation - an acting out of their own self-loathing, itself a product of their emotional wounds which they refuse to confront. From that debasement to fascism, Fassbinder implies, is only a small step. Here, The Master is the comically diminished Walter, and nascent totalitarianism is represented by only a small cell. But history shows where else those tendencies can lead.
Satan's Brew seems one of Fassbinder's most audacious creations, simultaneously a deliriously effervescent romp and a pitch-black satire on self-deception, anarchy, and the allure of fascism. From a certain - perhaps optimistically twisted - point of view, it might even inspire some people to imagine a better world than our own, although it would be the complete negation of the one here.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
It isn't like any other Fassbinder film 20 Sept. 2004
By Stalwart Kreinblaster - Published on
Format: DVD
This film makes me laugh out loud every time I see it. Kurt Raab really brings down the house here - in this intelligent comedy about loss of identity. This has a lot of the same charm as Almodovar's 'What Have I Done to Deserve This' (in fact, I would suggest that movie as a companion piece to this one)

Fassbinder's films always abound with intelligence and esoteric meaning - I have seen this movie several times and would watch it again at the drop of a hat - I always catch little things I did not notice before. Anyway, watch this movie for Kurt Raab's performance alone!
Irreverent and acidic movie! 6 Aug. 2012
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on
Format: DVD
This picture may be regarded the most Godardesque film of Fassbinder. If he felt he owed a debt for those surrealistic years of the French May. when a man is obssesed by Stefan george poems and this obssesion drags all around him. fassbinder's dialogues about the Status Quo and the times by then makes it dated, but the wonderful performance of all the cast Kutr Raab as the hallucinating poet and Margot Cartensen are worth it.

Devastating comedy all the way through.
10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Sorry, it's bad 11 April 2002
By Carl West - Published on
Don't get me wrong, I am a Fassbinder fan. I just find 'Satan's Brew' to be a depressing, over-indulgent mess. It may be a gloomy observation, but you can almost see this work as a sign that Fassbinder's life would eventually come to a tragic end; six years later, the director was dead.
Kurt Raab plays one of the most detestable characters ever in film. Volker Spengler is good as always, but he really is playing a sick puppy in this one. And I'm still shocked that that is Margit Cartensen playing that extremely unbecoming sycophant who is enraptured (unbelievably) with Raab's character. I didn't realize that it was actually Cartensen until I read a cast list for the film afterwards on (this is the same actress who played Petra Von Kant and Martha??).
I've read that Fassbinder wrote this film to express the sense of "anger" that he often felt when reading the newspaper or listening to the news. It shows - this is a very bitter, repugnant film. Fassbinder's clever wit is far better displayed in films like 'Chinese Roulette' and 'Merchant of Four Seasons.' Leave 'Satan's Brew' at the bottom of your list of must-sees.
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