Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Homos In Distress

“It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt)” is the earnest title of Rosa von Praunheim’s 1971 PG-chaste first feature, which has aged like good cheese from a scandalous sensation (a political wakeup call to gays) into a textbook example of classic camp—and a delightful time warp trip through queer cliché. The very colorful color film (shot MOS) opens with von Praunheim’s camera trailing two fags—one blonde, one brunette—walking down a sunny Berlin street. Daniel, the shy brunette, is new to the big city and blonde Clemens is generously offering him a place to stay. (We know this by the heavily German-accented English, dubbed and spoken in a “Sprockets” cadence.)

To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Private Bitches in Public Places

At the end of “Stalags,” Ari Libsker’s engrossing documentary about the Israeli Nazi-themed porn paperbacks that became a bestselling phenomenon at the time of the Adolf Eichmann trial, a survivor declares that the genocide should be spoken about in the simplest terms since the grandest words and images couldn’t come close to approaching the true horror. And Libsker, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, takes this advice to heart through a deft combination of voiceover (lurid excerpts from the stalags read by a somber baritone), archival images of daily life in Israel (mirroring the disjunction between normal appearances and the corrosive truth lurking beneath the surface), and talking head experts—both consumers and creators of the “anti-Semitic porn”—shot in B&W, juxtaposed with cutaways to the stalags’ colorful cover art (perhaps the only sign of life in the “shadow of trauma” that defined the time, each image worth a thousand words and then some). Simply put, this film is a revelation. Like the best investigative journalists, Libsker patiently sifts through each and every contradiction to discover that something that would seem so horrifically paradoxical on its face proves ultimately inevitable beneath the surface. How could Israeli Nazi pornography even exist, let alone be a widespread phenomenon? “Stalags” answers, “How could it not?”

To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door.