Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Querelle (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1982)

I don't think I'm smart enough to like Querelle. Now, I'm a college-educated gal who knows her gender/sexuality issues, but the structure of the film and the issues contained therein make it harder to decipher than the normal Fassbiner film. His last film, which Fassbinder also commented was his most important, Querelle is the fusion of two important artists (Fassbinder himself and Jean Genet, whose novel is the basis for the film) and the culmination of at least forty years of thought on Fassbinder's part. As a gay man, Fassbinder made this film about queerness that is so important to him; while I understand the importance, the depth makes it hard to understand/enjoy at times.

Brad Davis plays the titular sailor, docked at Brest and finally coming to terms with his sexuality. He comes into the identity of a gay man with violence - his first gay experience is with a man who he subsequently murders. He becomes embroiled in gay life in Brest, including with Nono, the owner (along with his wife Lysiane, played by Jeanne Moreau) of a brother where Querelle's brother frequents (and is also Lysiane's love); Gil, a man who murders out of pride and eventually falls because of Querelle; and Lieutenant Seblon, Querelle's superior who is desperately in love with Querelle and eventually becomes the center of all these stories. The story is told in a stage-like way, with obvious sets and props. There is no real attempt at realism, and some of the dialogue is taken directly (I assume) from Genet's novel. The scene with Querelle and his brother fighting is especially opaque, as they speak to each other in philosophies while brandishing knives.

This movie is a deeply intellectual, obviously meaningful movie to Fassbinder, but it is too steeped in philosophy and Genet's original work to be incredibly enjoyable to me. The mix of the high-minded ideas with crude language is sometimes effective, other times painfully pretentious and awkward-sounding. While I understand its importance, I cannot say I loved it, and that's the conundrum of some of Fassbinder's films. Recommended, but not without these warnings. By the way, I love this Andy Warhol poster based on the movie. One of the better posters I've ever seen.


RIYL: R.W. Fassbinder (his other films are the only things I can find to compare this to)

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