Fox and His Friends (1975)

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At the beginning, real life invades the world of poor artists. But Fox is transplanted out of his “real self” into a world of showy pretence.

Fey, petulant, pining for his mother, sulking in his coattails at tea.

At the bank withdrawing cash cash cash cash; “if you say a word so many times, it loses its meaning” – jamais-vu; loss of referentiality and signification. F is constantly tied up in language he doesn’t understand; legalese, etiquette, French. Fox is a feature-length riff on my favourite moment in Ali: E stumped at the restaurant, the waiter wielding decorum like a net.

F the great observer of behaviour; movement and posture as well as speech: the sugar chucked past the bowl is a great touch, as is the Dad smiling sinisterly at the dinner while F breaks bread into his lobster soup. “We’ll make a human being out of you yet!” Too easy for me to lose track of the value in this social portrait; the sexual politics, economics of relationships, poverty and queerness. F’s aspiration is to a liberal sphere (the film’s obvious moment of explicit, more mainstream homophobia – F’s and E’s eviction from their rented apartment – is instantly ironed out with the lottery money) that chews him up and spits him out,  no less permanently resident than the Arab is in the European hotel in Marrakech. Dynamics of acceptance are perhaps more layered and revealing here than in Ali, which exposes techniques for manipulation along a more linear spectrum of tolerance.

Palette more beautiful even than Merchant of the Four Seasons – the florist’s, the first apartment, the clothes shop. Looks great in square aspect ratio too; F’s framing is elegantly revealing: wandering around above in the empty apartment, filmed from below in the spiral stairwell with the bannisters blocking like cell bars. After the party, F and Eugen parallel gazing down at his sister, his friends.

Flashes, too, of the madcap shock I loved in Merchant – the Grave Of The Fireflies ending especially, also the weird tension of the beginning released in the poignant goodbye onstage – but, like Ali, somewhat formulaic and predictable.

Glücklich – was ist das?

7

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