Plotting My Comeback

Planning on chucking out some content and giving the site a little facelift this week. You know I can’t resist October. Plus I’ll be expanding my focus — from classic film to classic, foreign, obscure, and whatever-the-hell-I-feel-like film. It just gives me more movies to write about and less excuses not to write about them! Stay tuned for the imminent return of Garbo Laughs.

Hiatus

Obviously.

Friday Glam Spam: Lena Horne

Lena Horne

(June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010)

Image Sources: Vintage-Stars (1, 2); Doctor Macro (3, 4); I know, right? (5); Fans in a Flashbulb (6); Mulatto Diaries (7); LIFE (8); ESL Listening (9)

Guest Post: Why Marlene Leaves – Some Thoughts on The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

As the icing on the cake that is the Queer Film Blogathon, my best friend in the whole wide world, Lillian Behrendt, has contributed the following essay. She justifies her choice of subject thusly: “I kicked off the month of June with the American Cinematheque’s Fassbinder retrospective. I saw ten Fassbinder films in ten days, and still missed three of the screenings. My dreams were in German for a week, and I don’t even speak German. My best friend is hosting a queer blogathon. Not writing about Fassbinder just isn’t an option for me right now.” Thank you Lilsy!

In 1968, Rainer Werner Fassbinder directed his first original play. One year later, he had made his first feature film. In 1982 (thirty years ago this month) he died at the age of 37 — with about forty films under his belt. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), originally produced as a stage play, is the first of Fassbinder’s “woman’s pictures” and the only film he ever made with an all-female cast. It’s a movie about class, desire, oppression, longing, loneliness, performance and power.

Margit Carstensen stars as the eponymous Petra, a recently-divorced fashion designer who lives with her silent assistant/secretary/maid/submissive Marlene (Irm Hermann) in a sparsely-furnished apartment filled with bald, naked mannequins and porcelain dolls. Petra falls in love with Karin (Hanna Schygulla), a young working-class woman who hopes to enter the world of modeling. Several months later, Karin returns to her husband, leaving Petra in pieces. After throwing a drunken birthday tantrum (giving new meaning to “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”) and lashing out at everyone who cares about her, she apologizes to Marlene, the only person who remains. When Petra suggests that they leave the Mistress/slave dynamic behind and live as equals, Marlene packs her bag and leaves.

The whole unrequited-lesbian-love-ending-with-the-object-of-desire-reverting-to-heterosexuality thing is a pretty tired trope, and already was by 1972. Pulp novels and exploitation films (and Lillian Hellman plays) of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s usually pathologized lesbianism as a (titillating) tragic disorder rather than a (also titillating) delinquent behavior. (I would argue that Fassbinder was referencing some of this by subtitling the film “A Case Study.”) The progression of the relationships in Petra von Kant have several superficial similarities to those in Ann Bannon’s famous Beebo Brinker pulp novels (1957-1962): a (relatively) masculine main character involved with two femmes — one cruel and dominant, one kind and submissive. Main character prefers cruel, glamorous, dominant femme, is dumped for a man, and returns to the patiently-waiting submissive femme with the promise of “happily ever after.”

Read the full post »

Queer Film Blogathon: That’s a Wrap!

The 2012 Queer Film Blogathon has now come to a close, and boy am I tuckered out. We ended up with 45 posts from 29 different bloggers, with contributions covering 98 years of cinema from all around the world — amazing!! While last year’s event had about 60 contributions, I must say, what we lacked this year in quantity we more than made up for in quality. (No shade to last year’s group — but the caliber of this year’s posts was really off the charts!) I’d like to thank all of the wonderful participants for their insightful, witty, and thought-provoking posts. You are all my heroes. I haven’t finished reading everyone’s contributions yet, but I plan to comment on every single one. If you get a chance, remember it’s not too late to keep the party going by reading some of the other posts and leaving your two cents. Everybody loves comments!

I’d also like to thank my partner in crime Andreas over at Pussy Goes Grrr for helping me to pull it off. Wonderful having you on board this year, Andreas!

And congratulations to raffle winner Jake Cole of Not Just Movies who, by the grace of the random number generator, shall be receiving The Celluloid Closet by Vito Russo.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a late contribution to the event by my best friend Lillian Behrendt, who is sharing with us her thoughts on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972). Wish I could get it up today but, like I said, tuckered. (As most of you in the classic film blogging/Twitter family know, it’s been one helluva week!)

After that I’m going to be taking a teeny tiny break from blogging, but shall return in July. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you all for making this event such a roaring success. Hope we’ll see you again next year!

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