Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I watch films

Lush adaption of part of John Sayles massive novel about the USA's occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century.  It's a beautiful but slow moving film.  Good performances and great cinematography can't make up for the snail's pace of the film.  I recommend this one with heavy reservations.

This is the first Fassbinder film I had ever seen.  Sometimes German directors scare me, I'm afraid their films will be too dense and symbolic, but this film is as straight forward as you can get.  It tells the story of an old German woman, she's overweight and not a beauty at all, who meets and falls in love with a Moroccan man who is half her age and who can barely speak her language.  Her family, friends, and neighbors shun her after she marries but she doesn't care, until it all finally gets to her and she suggests a get away with her new husband.  She tells hm people will be more accepting of their unconventional marriage when they return.  Turns out she's right, they are more accepting but only because they all want something from her.  She gives them all what they want but she becomes unhappy and it strains her marriage.  When she finally wises up and puts her marriage back on the right track, her husband gets gravely ill with an ulcer caused by all the stress of being a black African foreign worker in racially obsessed Germany.

I've made the film sound like a downer but it's actually not.  It's a sweet little story about acceptance, love, and remaining true to yourself.  I highly recommend it.

A low level SS officer (Dirk Bogarde) ends up working as a night porter in a swanky hotel after12 years after WW2.  He and some of  his old Nazi buddies work behind the scenes to cover their past, they do this by bringing forth witnesses and documents that could be damaging to them and they dispose of those documents and witnesses.  A woman (the stunningly beautiful Charlotte Rampling) comes in to his hotel one night, she's the wife of a semi famous opera director, the porter recognizes her from his war days.  Turns out she was a prisoner in the death camp he worked in during the war and they were lovers, twisted psycho lovers.  She can't resist the danger of being with the porter once more and once her hubby leaves to go stage his opera in another city, she and the porter hook up once more.  They have crazy disturbing sex.  The porter's old buddies find out about his affair with her and they want it stopped because she was a witness to his wartime atrocities.  He refuses to give her up and at one point he chains her up in his apartment so they can't take her.  Things go down hill for our hell crossed lovers pretty quickly, they're forced to stay holed up in the porter's apartment without food or electricity and when they finally make it out, they get gunned down.

Some of the story is told in flashbacks to the days when the lovers were in the concentration camp and those scenes, as you might imagine, are very disturbing.  Some of the 'love' scenes in the updated story line are disturbing.  He hits her, she cuts his feet, she acts out by crawling around like an animal when she's chained up, it's all pretty repellant.

Not even the extraordinary beauty of Ms. Rampling as the woman in question can save this film from being a shocking repellant disturbing mess.  I saw this film once before back in the late 1980's when I was a huge pothead and I had forgotten most of it.  Having seen it again now that I am sober and clear headed, I can honestly say I never want to see it again.


Sausage said...

I have to see the Night Porter, how old is this?

Splotchy said...

I love that Fassbinder film. I want to see more of his work.

I wasn't a fan of his earlier "Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?", but "Fox and His Friends" is wonderful (if heartbreaking).

Dr. Monkey Hussein Monkerstein said...

'The Night Porter' was released in 1974.

Dr. Monkey Hussein Monkerstein said...

Splotchy, there's a bunch of his films on HuluPlus in their Criterion Collection section. You can subscribe and watch on your computer and or home TV streaming device.

Life As I Know It Now said...

The second film does sound interesting but that last film, well I think I'll pass.