Two of cinema’s greatest queer provocateurs take center stage in this week’s Friday Night Double Feature on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, each with his signature troupe of outsider performers. In Fox and His Friends, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s controversial 1975 depiction of gay life in West Germany, the director stars as a working-class innocent who lets himself be taken advantage of by his bourgeois new boyfriend and his circle of materialistic friends. “Seeing a Fassbinder retrospective is better than drugs, liquor and sex put together,” said John Waters, whose gloriously grotesque second feature, 1970’s Multiple Maniacs, shows a similar taste for no-holds-barred provocation. Overflowing with depravity, Waters’ gleeful mockery of the peace-and-love ethos features the Cavalcade of Perversion, a traveling show mounted by a group of misfits whose shocking proclivities are topped only by those of their leader, played by the larger-than-life Divine.
Also up this week:
With his 1959 debut feature, Hiroshima mon amour, French editor-turned-director Alain Resnais forever altered the way memory was captured on-screen. Working from a screenplay by Marguerite Duras, Resnais tells the story of a French actress and a Japanese architect who engage in a brief, intense affair against the backdrop of postwar Hiroshima. Through an innovative structure that weaves together past and present, the film navigates the currents of the couple’s personal pain and public anguish. For the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, a Channel-exclusive series that offers viewers a monthly ten-minute dose of film school, Professor Jeff Smith examines the ways in which Resnais’s puzzle-like masterpiece redefined cinematic language in its use of groundbreaking editing techniques. Watch an excerpt from the program here.
Two twisted, carnivalesque visions, sprung from the wild minds of cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and his son Adan. Starring Asia Argento, Adan’s 2013 short film The Voice Thief tells the story of an opera singer who loses her voice, prompting her husband to go on a journey into the underworld to recover it. That same year, Alejandro made his semi-autobiographical The Dance of Reality, a fantastical rendering of his childhood growing up in politically turbulent Chile, featuring music composed by Adan.
This unorthodox dream western by Robert Altman may be the most radically beautiful film to come out of the New American Cinema. It stars Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as two newcomers to the raw Pacific Northwest mining town of Presbyterian Church, who join forces to provide the miners with a superior kind of whorehouse experience. The appearance of representatives of a powerful mining company with interests of its own, however, threatens to be the undoing of their plans. With its fascinating flawed characters, evocative cinematography by the great Vilmos Zsigmond, innovative overlapping dialogue, and haunting use of Leonard Cohen songs, McCabe & Mrs. Miller brilliantly deglamorized and revitalized the most American of genres. Supplemental features: an audio commentary featuring Altman and producer David Foster, a making-of documentary, a conversation about the film and Altman’s career between film historians Cari Beauchamp and Rick Jewell, a featurette from the film’s 1970 production, and more.