Catherine Pancake's "bitterbittertears"

Filmmakers, like other artists, are often too quickly pegged by genre. While Catherine Pancake may still be best known for her 2006 documentary Black Diamonds, her most recent work takes its cues from the avant garde. "Bitterbittertears" might be best described as a study of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1972 melodrama The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant. Pancake recreates the bedroom where almost all the activity in the Fassbinder original takes place, and her actors, including the queer performance artist Erin Markey, reproduce the performances in Fassbinder's film. But instead of a feckless recreation, a la Gus Van Sant's Psycho, Pancake lets you watch the actors repeat the shifting positions and speech patterns that are so essential to the film. "Bitterbittertears" is the rare remake that stays true to the vision of the original while deviating from it at the same time.

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