Sunday, February 05, 2006


In between crashing cars and going to tow lots and speaking with insurance company reps, I had time for a couple films this weekend:

Emmi is an aged and corpulent cleaning lady whose loneliness drives her into a bar frequented by Arab guest workers in an un-named German city. She meets a man called "Ali" for convenience (his name is too long for co-workers to remember), dances with him, and after he offers to walk her home, she invites him up. Despite the fact that Ali is 20 years her junior, they do the nasty and Emmi falls in love.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder often frames his characters through doorways and stair railings and windows, accenting the limited perceptual scope of the characters around Emmi and Ali, who get married and attempt a comfortable life. The grocer, the neighboring tenants, Emmi's co-workers, her children, and even the patrons at the local pub--almost nobody accepts the relationship because of either its interracial or autumn/spring aspect or both. Intolerance manifests itself harshly and suddenly Emmi and Ali find themselves almost more alone than before. Will their love survive or will it fall victim to their own subtle prejudices?

Interesting work, and far superior to:

I'd avoided this film since its release in 1989 because my 'spider sense' about movies that suck was jangling like William S. Burroughs' nerves after a couple days with no score. And yet over the years people have told me how edgy, ground-breaking, and well-acted it was--how that guy from Homicide (Max Perlich) was great, how good Heather Graham was, and Matt Dillon's performance was beyond interesting and quirky the script was, etc.

Bullshit. This movie is a giant turd. It's not nearly as clever, as hip, or as interesting as it thinks. The acting is shite--Dillon looks good, but his performance is akin to those in my sophomore Theater Class at best. Kelly Lynch outright sucks; this is acting right out of those 30-minute anti-drug reels they used to show us in the '70s at school. Perlich is ridiculously bad, and Graham was even more amateurish back then than she is now. No wonder she so enthusiastically disrobed in Boogie Nights--it's the only way she can get roles.

Um, junkies are not healthy-looking, robust individuals. All of the main characters in this movie are played by athletic attractive people--where's the waxy sheen, the pallor, the shakes? All arrive in the figure of Burroughs himself, who has a semi-interesting cameo as Father Tom, but even his junky cred can't save this bit of carnival fluff.

Perhaps I'm being unfair--this might have been a radically interesting and challenging film in the late '80s, before Trainspotting and Shallow Grave et al forever changed our sensibilities.

Nah, it sucked back then too.

No comments: