Sunday, April 08, 2007

Just watched Fassbinder's In A Year With 13 Moons. Not a hell of a lot to look at visually; it's a drab and often dull picture, and it is saddled with those interminable long takes where people talk endlessly without much purpose; Fassbinder's circuitous improv dialogue seems to suit him more than the film. Still, it's as solid a film as the director ever made about sex and politics. The story is about confused identity -- in which a man, now named Elvira, has a sex change operation to hopes of pleasing another, then considers becoming a man all over again -- but Fassbinder isn't just talking about sex roles. Elvira's former lover is a concentration camp survivor who made a fortune after establishing a whorehouse. Images of humiliation, dismemberment, and mutilation -- particularly an unbearably long scene in a slaughterhouse -- and suicide abound throughout, suggesting what it means to be a postwar German; to not know who you are in a country where a Nazi past casts a shadow over modern life.

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