Well unfortunately I'm at home tonight rather than in class view Tongues Untied, a shocking and very important film which I saw a few years ago on PBS. I got a violent headache around 4:00 and had to go home. I feel better now so I'll write a little about our film from Tuesday, Ranier Werner Fassbinder's Fox and His Friends.
Fassbinder died at the age of 38 in 1982 of an overdose of cocaine and sleeping pills. In his short and blazingly prolific life he over 40 films. He was, by all accounts, a complete asshole, grossly over indulgent on every level, reckless-- and a complete genius. Fox and His Friends (Faustrecht der Freiheit) was made in 1975 and Fassbinder himself stars as the films protagonist.
This film is amazing. You can read a lot about it online, as his truly "gay" film, although he himself said all his films were essentially gay because they all were made by a gay man. Fox is a out of luck carny who wins the lottery and as a result, falls into the company of, a group of blood sucking upper class jerks. As he tries desperately to win the love of one of them, they use him up and suck him dry.
The story is classic really, a nobody who tries to fit in where he is out of place, but the genius of Fassbinder, to me, is that he takes this story about class struggle and places in an entirely gay world. This takes the focus, the central struggle out of the issue of being gay in a straight world and thus surreptitiously causes the viewer to view this world, in 1975, as completely everyday, as it should be viewed. Even with loads of full frontal male nudity, it all seems just a backdrop to the heart wrenching story of this young man's downward spiral.
The debate in class was "is this a gay movie?" and the answer is definitely yes! but in a completely different way than what you are used to seeing. The central struggle has nothing to do with the fact that the protagonist is gay, because he lives in a world where there are absolutely no issues with anyone being gay. This is a highly unusual POV even today. The characters are all typical Fassbinder, harsh and alienating, and there is no happy ending. But this is pure Fassbinder and what he has achieved here is nothing but genius.
I love this movie- the acting, the cinematography, the script. It's not perfect, but like it's characters, the imperfections are what make it so human.
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