Criterion’s releasing a nice collection of early films by German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder on DVD soon. Early Fassbinders all have a stylised staginess to them, but they’re worth watching.
One thing I’ve associated with Fassbinder—early and late—since seeing his Ali: Fear Eats the Soul for the first time is his unusual ability to make you, the viewer, the centre of attention in that awkward, uncomfortable way we all hate to be made the centre of attention in real life. The action is going on until Bam!—
Everyone’s looking straight at you.
OK, not all of the shots are such surprises, but they do tend to bring out that feeling of “Hey, stop fucking looking at me!” either by when they come or how long they last. Although some of the shots are point of view shots where we assume the eyes of a character, and the other characters look at “us”, not all of them are. Sometimes the characters really are just looking at you, i.e. at nothing.