What’s Showing Today? Wednesday, November 25
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Among Todd Haynes‘ “major influences” playing at Lincoln Center is a pioneering piece of gay cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Fox and His Friends. In a 1975 interview, Fassbinder called it “the first film in which the characters are homosexuals, without homosexuality being made into a problem.” Sure enough, we’re pulled without preface into a world of public bathroom cruising and bourgeois gay sophistication in 1970s Munich. Within a few minutes, Fox (Fassbinder) is making out with horseshoe-mustachioed Karl Scheydt on a stage. Three scenes later, we’re in the elegant apartment of a well-to-do furniture dealer (Karlheinz Böhm), whose friends—cute boys and gentle older men—address each other as ‘honey’, ‘old girl’, and ‘madam’. There’s no cautious exposition of this ‘unusual’ world; as Fassbinder put it, “here homosexuality is shown as something completely normal, and the problem is something quite different.” That problem is the problem of emotional and financial exploitation, “the story I always tell.”
The class difference between Fox and his urbane lover Eugen (Peter Chatel) is an ample source of banter. When Fox has won half a million in the lottery, Eugen quips, “He’s not the sort of guy whom money makes rich.” Indeed, Fox winds up as penniless as he started. He’s motivated by what Freud called the “conservative character of the drives,” including the retrograde impulsion toward an inorganic state (a.k.a. the “death drive”). “I just want to be my old self,” Fox mopes when the world of contracts and debts has left him totally baffled and Eugen’s arrogant attempts at civilizing him have failed.
Among the techniques that give Fassbinder what Douglas Sirk called his “unmistakable signature” are the moments of solitary reflection that he gives to his characters. When Fox swindles a florist and peels away in a Benz, the latter chooses to forego pursuit and says softly to himself, “Halt… Polizei…” It’s one of the most pathetic moments in a film with no shortage of them. When Fox gets angry at his alcoholic sister, Hedwig (Christiane Maybach), and storms out of her apartment, she whispers “Wait—I have no money for food…” Suddenly left alone but still speaking, they address their problems to their invisible God, the audience.
The simple-hearted Fox pronounces lots of folksy maxims, like “Some people wash themselves, others are clean,” and “Some people have order in their cupboards, others have order in their heads.” Words to live by. —Cosmo Bjorkenheim
- Popeye (Robert Altman). Details. DCP. 1980. 144 min. 4:30 and 7:00 pm.
- Roar (Noel Marshall). Details. DCP. 1981. 94 min. 9:30 pm.
- Fox and His Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder). Details. 35mm. 1975. 123 min. 4:30 and 9:15 pm.
- Poison (Todd Haynes) with Decodings (Michael Wallin). Details. 16mm. 1991/1988. 100 min. 7:00 pm.
- The Maltese Falcon (John Huston). Details. 1941. 100 min. 1:30 pm.
- Pan with Monsieur Don’t Care (Harald Schwenzen). Details. 1922/1924. 112 min. 4:00 pm.
- Banshun (Late Spring) (Yasujiro Ozu). Details. 1949. 109 min. 6:45 pm.
- Phoenix (Christian Petzold). Details. 2014. 98 min. 7:30 pm.
Fat City (John Huston) at Film Forum. Details. DCP. 1972. 100 min. 12:30, 2:40, 4:50, 7:00 and 9:15 pm.
In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman) at Film Forum. Details. Digital. 2015. 190 min. 12:30, 4:10 and 7:50 pm.
- View all exhibitions at Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, Queens. $12 general/$9 students and seniors/$6 ages 3 to 18. Free admission Friday 4-8 pm. Closed Monday.
- “The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film” at The Jewish Museum, Upper East Side. $15 general/$12 seniors/$7.50 students. By donation Thursdays 5:00 to 8:00 pm and Saturday (Limited Viewing). Closed Wednesday. Ends February 7.
- “The Television Project: Picturing a People” at The Jewish Museum, Upper East Side. $15 general/$12 seniors/$7.50 students. By donation Thursdays 5:00 to 8:00 pm and Saturday (Limited Viewing). Closed Wednesday. Ends February 14.
- Rachel Rose “Everything and More” at The Whitney Museum, Meatpacking District. $22 general/$18 students and seniors. Pay-what-you-wish Friday 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Closed Tuesdays. Closes February 7.
- Emily Armstrong & Pat Ivers “Alone at Last” at Howl! Gallery, 6 East First Street. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Ends December 6.
- Robert Attanasio “sound camera rotation no. 1″ at Junior Projects, 139 Norfolk St. Screening Saturdays, noon to 5:00 pm. Closes December 20.
- Union Gaucha Productions at Artists Space Books & Talks, 55 Walker Street. Open Wednesday-Sunday, noon to 6:00 pm. Closed Monday/Tuesday. Ends January 10.
- Young Jean Lee at 47 Canal, 291 Grand Street, 2nd Floor. Open Wednesday-Sunday, noon to 6:00 pm. Closes December 13.
- Raha Raissnia “Aberration” at Miguel Abreu Gallery, 88 Eldridge Street. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10:30 am to 6:30 pm. Closes December 22.
- Sarah Halpern “The Changing Room” at Microscope Gallery, 1329 Willoughby Avenue, #2B, Bushwick. Open Thursday-Monday, 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Ends November 29.