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Stanley-Becker

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Teorema (1968)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Down with the Bourgeoisie {Pier Paolo Pasolini}, 23 September 2011
10/10

The prologue of this movie is actually the epilogue. Pasolini emphasizes the artistic freedom to turn the world inside out and fictionally destroy all conventions. In a pseudo-documentary vignette intellectuals debate with the new industrialists {formerly "the workers"} and future plutocrats as to whether they will become subsumed by the bourgeoisie as a result of being inevitably corrupted by the trappings of wealth and power.

In the jump between the main story and the prologue a motif, {repeated throughout the entire movie}, of the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness, hoping to find the Promised Land, is inserted

We are introduced to the nuclear family in its bourgeois construct as an Industrialist with huge factories and a magnificent Milanese villa, his trophy wife, a beautiful female, sybaritic, vacuous and fashionably attired and coiffured, as befits her class, their son Pietro and daughter Odetta. All of them are illustrated as typically bourgeois, self-satisfied and complacently entitled to lead their lives empty of meaning. All bourgeois households of their class have servants and the religious peasant Amelia runs their household.

Pasolini then has a metamorphic agent, the boyish Terence Stamp, enter into their idyll. A cypher for the creative force of the auteur Pasolini himself, "the boy" insinuates himself into the individual lives of each of the five personae in the household. First, for no explicable reason other than the sexiness of his appearance, {Pasolini's homosexuality focuses on Stamp's prettiness and young slender physique}. Stamp's personality is quite reserved and introverted, so although he is seen to be reading the iconic gay poet Rimbaud, and playing the fool in a boyish way, we are never quite convinced of any intellectual passion.

The five seductions are all carnal, starting with the peasant Amelia, who is overwhelmed by Stamp's "aura" and, initially trying to avoid her "fall" by attempting suicide, succumbs to her desire for sexual congress with "the boy". In quick succession "the boy" inducts the younger son into the homosexual life. Here the thought occurs that a typical initiation into homosexuality by the older man would most likely be Pasolini's personal narrative, especially, as the story develops we see the son overcome his anguish by sublimating into the arts, as Pasolini himself, did. Next "the boy" is seduced by the mother and then the daughter pulls him into the bedroom. Finally the heterosexual father {in a typical gay fantasy "all straight men are potentially gay" } is seduced by "the boy". Having performed his role of alchemical mischief we are introduced to Tolstoy's novella "The Death Of Ivan Ilyich" when as if enacting the final chapter, the father falls ill and "the boy' takes his legs and holds them above his head giving him relief - it should be noted that Nabakov lectured on this work stating that Tolstoy considered bourgeois hypocrisy to be a moral death or suicide of the soul.

Then, suddenly "the boy" - the revolutionary agent of transformation - announces his abrupt departure {this takes place almost exactly half way into the movie}. Like the aftermath of a bad L.S.D. trip, {Pasolini created this movie in 1967 at the height of the 60's revolution}, the confusion and dismay of the five individuals are the necessary results of picking up the pieces, and living a life with new values, and the meaninglessness of the past.

Of the five the most personal is the son Pietro, who leaves home to take the path of the artist {Rimbaud's calling} and become a painter {deeply inspired by a coffee table art book of Francis Bacon}. He muses that now that his past delusions of normality were shattered by his realization of his homosexuality, he must embrace his difference and become a creative power himself. He becomes a painter and paints on glass reminiscent of Duchamp's "Bride Stripped Bare" - he goes through many changes and humiliations, eventually restoring his equilibrium and health, by realizing the inconsequence of his life in relation to the universe. Here you have Pasolini's personal odyssey integrated into the story.

As to the other players, Amelia the servant returns to her country roots, where she becomes an austere penitent, and performs the Catholic miracle of levitation, only to be buried by an old peasant woman {played by Pasolini's mother} and once again with reference to Tolstoy's "Death of Ivan Ilyich" she declares that she is not dying but acting out of sympathy for those that are still living in moral death, aka the bourgeoisie. The mother in true homosexual style becomes a woman driven to find young boys { as in gay "cottaging", rent-boys, etc,}, and has anonymous sex with them. We leave her in a state of ungratified anguish. Odetta, the daughter {described by her mother as "caught up in the Cult of Family"}, allows her life force to seep away, while the father gives away his factories, and strips himself naked, ending up like his wife, wandering in the wilderness with no hope of finding the Promised Land.

Another peculiarity of this beautifully framed cinema is Pasolini's gay framing of the male crotch which is in contrast to the usual Hollywood focus on the female mammary, buttocks and legs. There is also some clothing fetishism with the camera lovingly gazing at the male Y-fronts. {underpants}

At the end of the explication of a theorem "Q.E.D." is affixed "that which has been demonstrated". I recommend this movie to those that are interested in the art of the 60's, gay art, revolutionary politics, and Surrealism in cinema. Its a mind blowing experience!

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Rakes Progress {Federico Fellini}, 18 September 2011
10/10

While Don Juan and Lothario are literary constructs, entirely fictional, Giacomo Casanova like De Sade {15 years his junior} was a flesh and blood historically verifiable person. Casanova was born in Venice 286 years ago in 1725 and he died 73 years later in 1798 having witnessed the fall of the Age of Decadence and the transformation brought by the French Revolution. That his name is synonymous to this day with the successful pursuit of sexual conquest is due to the fact that Casanova was a great writer who recorded his life in a 12 volume opus titled "The Story of my Life". This episodic work of literature apparently describes in detail Casanova's amorous victories on the sexual battlefield claiming and describing the seduction of at least 120 different woman.

Fellini, the year after Pasolini made his illustration of De Sade's literary perversity in Salo, brought this illustration of some of the episodes of Casanova's sexual exploits. The movie opens with the masked Carnival depicting Venus, {the goddess after whom Venice was named} rising out of the sea as her ancient Greek source goddess Aphrodite did before her. The masking of the revellers was an encouragement for the participants to ignore class differences and thus increase the scope of orgiastic interaction sponsored by the patron goddess of Love, Venus,

A masked man receives a letter proposing an assignation on an island palace with a woman masquerading as a nun, Casanova, revealed to us as a Dandy in extravagant attire of opulent and decadent fashion. Although historically dark haired Fellini portrays Donald Sutherland, {with false nose and jaw}, as a convincing Casanova, a foppishly ringletted blonde. As this is a cinematic examination of the life and technique of one of the most outrageous ladies man in modern history, the viewer is immediately introduced to Giacomo's modus operandi or seduction formulae. Casanova is not a bully but is much more adept at exploiting female gullibility with poetic declarations of deep and undying love which he combined with his peacockish appearance and intimate confessions of ardent desire and you have the story of his life in a nutshell, Other attributes that also helped garner his reputation was the reputed size of his penetrative organ and the athleticism of his ability to maintain sexual intercourse for long extended periods with an economy of repeated but unvaried thrusts leading eventually to orgasm. This delaying technique similar to "karezza" and tantric practices helped spread the name of Casanova as the ultimate stud of all time.

Apart from his reputation as a sexual libertine Casanova was eloquent and funny. The ability to make people laugh has always had aphrodisiac stimulation. After the conquest of the pseudo-nun Casanova has success with a neurotic young girl whom he cures from constantly fainting with a dose of sex magic. In a later episode we are introduced to the soirée' of Madame D'Urfee who believes that impregnation by Casanova would lead to the passing of her soul to a male child and then onto immortality. Casanova had performance problems with her as she was an ancient wrinkly and his ability to raise an erection had to be assisted by one of his lovers who had to amusedly stand by his side and wiggle her rear in order to facilitate his potency. It worked and Casanova made off with one of the many fortunes he made and lost during a life of spontaneous and opportunistic self-invention.

Among the most memorable set pieces that Fellini orchestrates is a wonderful dance in exquisite costume at the dinner provided by the hunchback and a young male ballerina. The costumes throughout the movie are fantastic. After the dance Casanova voices his disagreement with the notion that the male is the tempter. Henrietta, his lover at the time {played by the gorgeous Tina Aumont} is to leave him in one of the great blows he suffered in his sexual adventures. She managed to bring some sense of emotional loss which went beyond Casanova's usual rhetorical protestations of besotted love.

The Nino Roti score of sad music box lament and Casanova's most prized possession - his phallic winged mechanical toy which like a metronome allowed Casanova to keep a steady thrust. Apart from overwhelming woman with the false flattery of his supposed personal interest Casanova also reveals in the sex competition at the Prince Del Brand's Palace that he has an energy drink containing raw eggs and ginger and cinnamon, which he uses to keep his erection for up to an hour.

What happens to the ageing Casanova hundreds of years before the coming of Viagra? In Freud's theory the sexual energy with no capacity for expression becomes channeled to more productive outlets. In Casanova's case his last 12 years were spent writing and revising his major work "The Story of my Life"

Fellini chose to give the mood of the movie a certain disappointment as if Casanova was never satisfied and always a depressive in nature, but this does not make sense, as it stands to reason that as a young man part of Casanova's attraction was as a bon vivant, raucous, bawdy, randy and full of life. However the movie is styled as Fellini's Casanova and the odyssey it depicts - the life of Casanova - has been described as the greatest autobiography ever written.

That such a man existed is historical proof that some men are closer to the gods than anyone else. Fellini gives you sumptuousness and thought, {it is reputedly Fellini's personal favorite of all his oeuvre}. However, Bunuel on viewing the movie walked out before the end. I found it interesting as a working study of satyriasis and nymphomania which are fields rarely examined by auteurs.

Porcile (1969)
15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Down with God Tra-la-la {Pier Paolo Pasolini}, 12 September 2011
10/10

This movie is a testament to the power of poetry and its capacity to dwarf the medium of cinema. Pasolini merges the rites of passage towards 'bildung', {German concept for the development of civilizing Culture}, using five separate themes; - the immature rapport between a wealthy, young bourgeois couple, {named Julian and Ida}, the dilemma of Julian's parents, who desire the union, {it would be materially beneficial}, and the contrasting styles of two German plutocrats, - all this Pasolini combines and contrasts with the historical Italian vagabond life of a countryside bandit , circa the early 1500's, armed with a musket, roving the barren hilly escarpment in the Pompeian district and preying on unarmed, vulnerable Christian pilgrims on their way to Rome.

Julian and Ida play at being in love - but their inexperience leads them to compromise reality with their love of words. Julian is a spoilt young man who has been infantilized by his doting mother, who in her ensuing dialogue with Ida reveals herself to be totally blind to her son's character, believing instead that Julian has all the laudable attributes of a good German.

The narrative flow concerning this German family, shot as an interior with much opulence, antique furniture and Renaissance paintings, in enormous palatial rooms, which as the story moves forward, is intercut with desolate scenic waste as the vagabond displays primitive savagery, in killing, dismembering and cannibalizing his victims. These scenes are in a landscape that is evocatively lyrical and empty of civilization {that is apart from the hymns which are beautifully chanted by the pilgrims on their way to destruction}.

In a parody of Godard and Truffaut, it soon becomes obvious that the love of the two 'pretty young things' is doomed to fail {as the barrier that they set up between each other with meaningless words becomes insurmountable}. The movie now shifts into its essential focus. The two plutocrats, the one, being Julian's father Herr Klotz, a German word for 'idiot' or blockhead, and the other, Herr Herdhitze, meaning 'hot fire' {possibly a reference to the exterminating ovens}, square up as two contrasting sides of the German psyche. Klotz, a humanist, is a cultivated man with a sense of cynicism and an appreciation of the accurate satirical art works of George Grosz - he sees himself depicted by Grosz sitting in a café with a sexy young secretary on his lap, cigar in his mouth and a piggish face - he also refers to Brecht's championship of the workers. Herdhitze, a technocrat, on the other hand, refers to himself as a man of science, who despises individuality, and wants to convert all the impoverished farmers to technicians - he has no soul at all.

The two men face off with the core of the German problem - their love of the meat of the pig. Their dialogue .... Klotz - 'the Germans love their sausage' to which Herdhitze replies 'shit' Klotz 'but they do defecate a lot'. The ironic impasse between the two Nazis is whether Jews are pigs or not - with the added Surreal contradiction of, if the Jews are pigs why do the Germans love their pork. and why do they grunt like pigs?

The year is 1959, in the German quest for an economic miracle, questions of Jews and culture are easily overcome, and the two plutocrats combine forces, in the pursuit of their worship of material wealth. Meanwhile Julian has resolved his confusion, and sacrifices himself to the totem of the pig, by going to the German Temple - the Pigsty - and there offers himself as an anointed meal to the pigs

Pasolini has wrought a great work of Art that might have been an Epic Poem or a great novel or a great Painting like Picasso's 'Guernica' or Goya's 'Atrocities of War'. He certainly has no sympathy whatsoever for the Nazi German and his god 'The Pig'.

This is a difficult movie to digest, but it's rationale is crystal clear. If you are interested in the History of the Intellect, then this movie is unmissable.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Genius of Brando and Bertolucci {Bernardo Bertolucci}, 22 August 2011
10/10

Bertolucci, having made The Conformist and The Spider's Strategy in 1970, had a simple fantasy from which he was to make The Last Tango in Paris. He was now deep into his Freudian view of existence being fundamentally a phenomenon of sexually driven events. Last Tango was a simple story of a man who meets a woman completely by chance, and then has anonymous sex with her over a short period {three days} in which time, he makes personal explorations that eventually coalesce into a realization of the emotional heart of his existential dilemma.

As with his previous movies, the Roman goddess Fortuna, {that is human fate or destiny}, was of paramount interest to Bertolucci. Marlon Brando had recently completed The Godfather, {not yet released}, and was told of Bertolucci's project by friends. He met with Bertolucci in Paris, viewed The Conformist, {which he had not yet seen}, discussed their common interest in Freud's theories, and agreed to take the main role in Last Tango, infusing the movie with improvisations and autobiographical memories. Destiny had delivered the contemporary world's preeminent movie actor, and Bertlucci proceeded to realize his fantasy.

Brando, now a man in early middle age, {45} opens the movie with a close up of his majestic features in anguish, haranguing God for his, yet to be revealed, predicament. The same train that ends The Conformist passes overhead in this opening sequence. He looks visibly unhappy, but still handsome enough to catch the eye of a passing young Parisian "hippie chick", {the period being the 60's}. The camera then follows her trajectory past a beautiful old apartment, where her eye is arrested by a poster offering an apartment to rent and a telephone number. She rushes to the nearest Bistro and once again encounters the gaunt, disheveled, handsome figure of Brando coming out of the phone booth. Later, in the apartment, to her surprise and amazement, she once again encounters Brando, who had completely by fate seen the same poster advertisement. She is young, sexually active, and a believer in allowing one's sexual impulses freedom of expression {a part of the fashionable 60's revolution}. They find their attraction to have sexual irresistibility. They copulate ferociously. She is simultaneously, having another relationship with her fiancée, a film director, making a cinema verite portrait of his wordy, and frivolously romantic but unconsummated quest for her sexuality {a subtext and contrast to her more compelling and physical intercourse with Brando}. Afterwords, when she voices some curiosity about his identity Brando makes it clear, that he desires total anonymity. No language or dishonesty - a relationship of essential sexuality

We do, in the unraveling of the plot, find out more about Brando's life in Paris. He was married to a woman with whom he had a relationship, of great intimacy, {they told each other everything}. Their bohemian marriage was centered around her small hotel with it residents drawn from the underclass of prostitutes, musicians and drug addicts. Previously he had been an adventurer traveling the world and like Gauguin, {and Brando himself}, sojourned in Tahiti. His wife had inexplicably committed suicide, leaving him bereft and confused vacillating between anger and sorrow as he tried to make sense of the aftermath and pick up the pieces.

The girl who returns regularly to the apartment, which Brando rents and she has the key for, is fascinated by her mysterious lover, with a scatological bent, and a personal taste for bawdy Elizabethan comedic language, {Brando is very funny!!}. After much sex, including heterosexual anal sex, {which certainly had a huge influence on the sexual habits and practices of the world's heterosexual population}, Brando vanishes from the apartment leaving her distraught. This allows her to finally commit to marriage to her enthusiastic, film director boyfriend.

Then the climax, Brando the man with no name, reappears. He has decided that he has an emotional life after all. He pursues her. There is a great Tango scene where he drunkenly capitulates to her, begging her to start a life with him as a couple. She has had enough of his craziness and constant vacillation between tenderness and brutality. Her equilibrium is totally out of kilter. She does not want to continue with this labyrinthine path of insane desire and hopeless insecurity ..........................

A great partnership between Brando, the genius and Bertolucci, the genius. adds up to a genius of a movie

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Freud's Seduction Theory {Bernardo Bertolucci}, 19 August 2011
10/10

The question this movie poses, {as did its source, the novel from which it is adapted, The Conformist by Alberto Moravia}, is why would a man, educated in both philosophy and the classics, want to forgo his capacity to be a freethinker and critic, and instead, identify with an immoral, vulgar, corrupt, totalitarian political consciousness, we know from the unfolding of events, to be the case in Italy's version of Nazism, that is the Fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.

The subject of the movie, a late 1930's Roman radio producer and Fascist propagandist, named Marcello Clerici, is personally ambitious to rise in the political hierarchy and improve his position in the Fascist society in which history and destiny have placed him. The Colonel whose assistance he seeks seems surprised that he is not the typically corrupt, immoral, or driven by greed type, whom he says they usually attract.

Marcello in an exchange with his best friend Italo, {a blind, intellectual cynic, who broadcasts Fascist propaganda, on the radio}, informs him of his forthcoming marriage to a pretty but vacuous young petit bourgeois woman, with whom he shares nothing in common,, but he emphasizes the attraction to be her normality. Italo is amazed that a person so different from the "hoi polloi" as Marcello is, would want to be "normal".

The central theme of this movie is then addressed, with a flashback sequence to Marcello's childhood, {in true Freudian style} , and we are shown the pivotal scene of a 13 year old Marcello, effeminately dressed being bullied in the playground by his peers. He walks disconsolately on the road, while his chauffeur in true haute bourgeois style follows behind him in the family limousine. The 13 year old Marcello then finds himself the victim of homosexual abuse {possibly sodomy} at the hands of the homosexual chauffeur called Lino. In Freud's seduction theory {which the auteur Bertolucci and the creator Moravia were both familiar with} childhood traumas and abuse would become the basis for adult neurosis and lead to otherwise inexplicable and aberrant adult behavior. This event and the phantasy's that were formed to allow the subconscious to deal with this trauma become the perverse condition which force Marcello to abandon his developed capacity to differentiate between acts that enhance the existential reality and those that degrade - those that according to his insane father, {a fantastic sequence in the asylum} cause "slaughter and misery"..

The movie then changes genre, and location. Marcello and his empty- headed wife go to Paris on a twofold mission - both to honeymoon and to perform his Fascist mission of eliminating his former philosophy tutor Professor Quadri. The movie now becomes a conspiracy-thriller as the Professor's beautiful and intelligent wife, a sexual libertine, has dalliances with both Marcello {who for the first time has genuine emotion towards this manly {virago} woman. Anna Quadri,also in turn, seduces Giulia Clerici, {Marcello's wife}, and the seduction motif is carried forward. Hovering in the background at all times is the coarse, vulgar Fascist henchman Manganiello, a swarthy brute, who is there to see that Marcello does not lose courage and chicken out of his assignment. He says in true Nazi style that he hates cowards, homosexuals and Jews.

The camera is always lyrical and the set pieces beautifully choreographed, as this amazingly dense movie moves on to the end of Mussolini's tyranny and a final sequence, where Marcello finds himself faced with the reality that his memory of the events of his childhood were false, and his mental structure that he had created to deal with the trauma, {that is his identification with authority and normality} were all illusion and delusion. The realization that he had ruined his destiny and his life drives him over the edge.

Wow, what a movie, on so many levels and so influential {one immediately thinks of The Godfather} I, personally was stunned by the experience.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
On the Road to Nowhere {Luis Bunuel}, 10 August 2011
10/10

This movie forms a trilogy with the earlier "Exterminating Angel" and the later "Phantom of Liberty". They are all concerned with that stereotypically "modern man" termed the "bourgeoisie". How does Bunuel characterize this social phenomenon in this movie? Surprisingly, not as harshly as he does in the other two movies of the trilogy.

The Discreet Charm does not have a prologue {as in the other two in this trilogy} but opens up with the two couples arriving in a chauffeur driven limousine. The VIP whose vehicle it is , is the ambassador for the fictional Latin American state of "Miranda" {in Spanish this name denotes "admirable" and here Bunuel's cynicism is clear}. The ambassador is corrupt, and like many Colombian diplomats of the time, was using his supposed "diplomatic immunity" to smuggle cocaine into France. The other two French citizens are his accomplices. They do not use the drug themselves but instead liberally dose themselves with the legally acceptable bourgeois drug "alcohol"

In a series of humorous and teasingly droll sketches, Bunuel illustrates how these corrupt men and their colluding female partners act out their empty lives of hypocrisy and deceit.. There class snobbery is clearly demonstrated,when the Bishop dressed as a gardener is evicted from the house, but on reentering in his official clerical costume, he is immediately embraced. The bourgeois, always insecure about their own position in society, are always making presumptuous judgments about the social positions of other people, making their lack of substance obvious. Throughout the movie, the continual lack of social concern in their relationships, as emotionally connected human beings, is made clear. The metaphor of "breaking bread together", one of the most intimate of human experiences, is continually subverted by rampant egotism and selfish desires.

The scene when Bunuel has the dining table become a stage with a prompter giving them their lines, {as in Shakespeare's As You Like It "All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women merely players'}, is a brilliant confirmation of the emptiness of the bourgeois existence - simply stunning in its honesty {and so opposed to their inherent dishonesty}.

Other facets of the devious nature, of the bourgeois personality, pursued by Bunuel in this movie, are the paranoid dream and thought constructions, used to resolve problems {a pernicious form of dishonesty} and the recurrent theme of the six bourgeois characters walking on the open road - "The Road to Nowhere".

Bunuel devoted three whole movies to unmasking this scourge of human greed and existential poverty. The Surrealist program saw a revolution in human society as a prerequisite of a better world for all. Bunuel remained true to this creed throughout his artistic life.

This movie is funny and entertaining. I can think of no greater compliment to give it.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad {Luis Bunuel}, 7 August 2011
10/10

Surrealism has amongst its artistic goals, a revolutionary destruction of the social forms that stand in the way of the "creative", and instead, are moribund in their repetitive rigidity. The arch villain in Bunuel's Book of Social Crimes is the exploitative institution of the bourgeois. This, ruling class, is held in contempt in most of Bunuel's films, but most notably in this movie.

The movie opens with a Catholic Cathedral, funereal music, and sheep as the congregation. Bunuel's bourgeois are Catholic adherents of Karl Marx's "Opium of the People" {his description of the role of religion in society}.

The scene then shifts to a plutocratic mansion, where a gathering of the rich and cultured is to take place, in which one of the most holy sacraments of bourgeois society is about to begin. The social ritual in which assorted bourgeois people sit at a large banquet table and are plied with different courses of elegantly prepared food by foot servants, which had been anxiously and expertly prepared by the chef and his kitchen staff.

Bunuel alerts us {the viewers} early as to the incipient chaos to follow by having the kitchen staff abandon their conventional order of events by unpredictably walking off the job. This strange/peculiar juxtaposition of that which is predictable sets the stage for the arrival of the Exterminating Angel, whom we never see physically, but are made aware of as the movie progresses.

The evening progresses as the depleted staff serves dinner to the narcissists gathered at the table. The central theme in this movie is reached when Bunuel applies a primitive form of magic and superstition to the apparently "modern man", represented at the bourgeois dinner party. This tradition often described in Frazier's "The Golden Bough" is the drawing of a circle around a primitive victim by a shaman from which there is no escape. The victim will not, {because of fear and superstition}, step across the line and break the circle. The result is a lingering death paralyzed within the chalked circle.

At the end of the dinner, and after pleasantries and some cultivated appreciation of classical piano playing, the invisible circle is chalked at the exit to the dining-room leaving the assorted guests unable to perform the act of taking their leave and departing.

Here you have the central issue of the film, as the bourgeois guests descend into a nightmarish hell of inertia, apathy and utter lack of resourcefulness, so that the typical bourgeois traits of herd-like conformity, self interest and alienation become stumbling blocks to the simple human capacity to act. No action is possible as the vile, dark side of the inner bourgeois personality is slowly revealed. They sleep, they dream, {often surrealistically}, they harbour murderous resentment {as scapegoats for their dilemma are sought}. Everything is in stasis, nothing can break the spell { a magic ritual with chicken legs is attempted, but fails}. People die, lovers commit suicide, sheep {the lamb of God?} are eaten as civilization, of which the human social phenomenon of the bourgeois can be considered to be its apex, crumbles back into the cesspool of primal soup from which it developed.

The spell is eventually broken when one of the guests remembers the alchemical and ancient magical practice of reenacting the events that led up to the circle being drawn but then changing its chain of magical order by leaving, {like an automaton}, at the usual time and manner

The movie then reverts back to the prologue with the sheep entering the Cathedral, in order to worship. An utterly amazing movie!!

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Lipstick Lesbians - a love story {Rainer Werner Fassbinder}, 2 August 2011
10/10

This movie is reputedly an autobiographical fictionalization of Fassbinder's own "menage" between himself, his lover, and his secretary. While the homosexuality is retained the gender is transformed to female.

Petra von Kant, is, like Fassbinder a product of upper middle class circumstances. She is artistic and ambitious. She is a rising force in the German Fashion "couture" and the movie opens with a bibulous Petra waking up late, and behaving in a superior and demanding manner towards her submissive and obedient secretary/design assistant/maid, the long suffering Marlene. Petra's selfish and narcissistic character is thus immediately established. The viewer is left in no doubt concerning her sybaritic, pampered demanding nature.

The next scene features a visit from her friend the Baroness Sidonie, whom she hasn't seen in years. The talk is focused on Petra,s failed marriage and Sidonie's curiosity about the underlying reasons for its failure. Petra claims that her husband resented her success and could not chauvinistically come to terms with her financial dominance. At no time does she refer to sexual orientation and gender preference as factors.

Enter the Baroness's young and beautiful friend Karin. Immediately Petra becomes interested and seductively attracted towards her. In classic bourgeois style, she flatters and tempts the impoverished Karin with her wealth and connections {"I'll make you my model"}. Karin, a heterosexual embraces bisexuality and embarks on an affair with Petra.In the background throughout the entire movie Poussin's "Midas and Bacchus" reproduced as a backdrop against an entire wall looms symbolically over the unfolding drama.

We are now moved on in time. Petra is now hopelessly infatuated with Karin, who, although she is affectionate towards Petra, her heterosexuality precludes her reciprocating. What Petra desires is a grand passion, which,like a moth being drawn to a flame is then consumed by it. The requited love that Petra insists upon, remains unsatisfied. The situation comes to a head when Karin's husband returns and Karin walks out of her relationship with Petra and rejoins him.

We now have the core of this tale as Petra fragments in agonistic convulsion. A fantastic sequence of humiliation and degradation, emotionally convincing, is magnificently pulled off by Margarit Carstensen who plays Petra and also by Fassbinder's tight direction. The scene takes place on a shaggy long piled white carpet,{fashionable in the 70's} a bare room and the backdrop painting. An utterly masterful and absorbing display of emotion at the edge. Phew, what an affective scene, leaving the viewer quite exhausted. After the catharsis of all the "descent into hell", Petra recovers, seemingly cured of the "mad love", and supposedly, through the pain and suffering, she now offers her long suffering slave cum assistant, a new relationship - her freedom from servitude, and from now on a partnership of equality. This political resolution was taken by this particular viewer {that is, myself} with a pinch of salt, as I find it highly optimistic on Fassbinder's part, that Petra would so easily embrace a new persona

There is very little action in this movie but the authenticity is riveting. Sure, it's an Art Movie, stagey, with the dialogue telling most of the story, but it's a great movie nevertheless.

Alice in Bourgeoisland {Luis Bunuel}, 27 July 2011
10/10

This movie is the most closely aligned to Surrealist Manifestos, of all Bunuel's body of work. It's title is the most important element of the modern revolutionary epoch. Freedom being the essential chant of desire to the Bastille stormers of the Parisian movement in 1789. Bunuel's opening scene is the display and then animation of one of Goya's "Atrocities of War" series. The irony being that Napoleon's revolutionary armies brought a charter of Freedom to Spain by the massacre of the Spanish Nobility and leaving the Spanish peasants with no security and lethal repression and a Constitution which declared them to be free. Here, immediately the fugitive nature of freedom is illustrated. Before continuing it might be worth examining what , according to the Surreealists the positive and negative results of the French Revolution are; first of all, the creative impulse of change, and added to this, other movements for change such as Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams" offered a channel into enigmatic areas of existence like dreams. However the single most important result of the Revolution was the birth of a new class, which would supersede the old classifications and leave Humanity with only one class of citizen - THE BOURGEOIS!

Bunuel's critique and analysis of this progressive and thoroughly modern phenomenon is present in most, if not all, his Cinema. The story segues into modern times as we focus on a random bourgeois family. He, an entomologist whose daughters are approached in a park, by a man in a raincoat, who offers them sweets in classic pederast fashion, and then hands them a packet of picture postcards. The parents are disgusted by the pre-revolutionary pictures of Cathedrals and antique buildings. The only picture they approve of is a modern eyesore, - a concrete parking lot. The father figure is troubled by dreams, so much so, that he consults with a medical practitioner, who advises Psychoanalysis, as "they will listen to your dreams for years".

The next sketch involves a visit to a boarding-house where Bunuel in quick succession has a flamenco dancing sequence, monks that are decadent and a dominatrix in full leather uniform whipping a mad hatter in "easy access, buttocks exposing trousers".

The viewer is now put through a truly Monty Pythonesque scene where a professor is instructing a class of policeman concerning the relativity of culture {he recommends reading Margaret Mead}. The professor then attends Bunuel's favorite ceremony in the Rites of Bourgeois Culture - the dinner party. The viewer is left in no doubt about Bunuel's opinion of the highest and most sacred of bourgeois conventions, the social dinner. The seating is a toilet bowl and the conversation concerns the overwhelming amount of waste each individual excretes - thus making the human being the culprit for the major volume of pollutant on our Planet.

Bunuel then leads us into the quintessential failing of the bourgeois - artificiality, and loss of contact with their irrational/dream/emotional life, {Surrealism's font of creativity and sensitivity} when he offers us a sketch of how these conventions so cripple the natural ability of the human to have consistent identities {as their snobbish insecurities continually undermine the obvious and sane}.

The final metaphor is the zoo where Bunuel obviously felt that our fellow mammals have more integrity and honesty than the human type, without whose presence the zoo would have no meaning at all.

This movie is rich with allusion, dense with incident, faithful to Surrealist theory, redolent with all their paradox, irony and jokes. It all makes sense if you want it to. I certainly enjoyed it.

Lola (1981)
6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Lola gets her man {Rainer Werner Fassbinder}, 21 July 2011

Satirical to the core, this movie is interesting in its realistic illustration of post-war small time corruption. Fassbinder has an extraordinary light touch, and it is a fascinating ride through the endemic connivance's of the petit-bourgeois wheeler-dealers of a small German city. One can actually hear Fassbinder giggling in the background as he brings the universal character of the average conformist-hustler to the screen.

Barbara Sukowa as Lola, is a magnificent actress, especially where she accepts the humiliations of her life, but will not allow them to transform her into the brutalized animal level of behavior, that she observes all around her. Always optimistic, she pursues her goal {to escape from the prison of degradation, she is in}. We, {the viewers}, follow her journey, as she overcomes obstacle after obstacle, to eventually triumph, and take her place as a citizen of her particular Peyton Place.

How she does it is colorful and informative. Fassbinder gives you all the different strata of class prejudice, as the money men are in cahoots with the bureaucrats, who are all, in turn, driven by libidinal desires. Mixing up cabaret elements, together with the controlling power of money, blended in with, the huge heart of those that earn their crust as sex workers {this, is so obviously where Fassbinder's sympathies lie}. Fassbinder has used high cinematic values in this movie, where all the characters, {ultimately}, believe that "Cash is King". Kitsch is displayed with the usual Fassbinder panache and as with many other movie portrayals of prostitution, the more sordid side, such as violence and intimidation, and the risk to health, are not mentioned, giving the otherwise sharp satire of the corrupt financial world, a rather fairy tale gloss.

Fassbinder, who always understood the paramount need to entertain, still manages to convey the malaise, that the aftermath of the Nazi demolition of all moral standards, which had left an entire nation bereft of a natural ethos of right and wrong. Fassbinder gives you entertainment and awareness, a difficult tightrope to straddle.

Fassbinder, like Diogenes, was always in search of an honest man. He had a celebratory attitude to life, and his mirth is infectious.


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