07-11-07, Notes - Elsaesser"From Vicious Circles(45-72...

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Elsaesser: "From Vicious Circles..." (45-72) Addressing the Audience: No Middle Ground If Fassbinder tried to provoke, it was mostly in order to create a space of unconventional sympathy for his all too conventional characters. None of the customary attitudes of identification (whether the distancing of comedy or the involvement of drama or suspense) sits comfortably on the films. When Fassbinder came to make films in the late 1960s, the American cinema, itself in a deep crisis, was for the cinephile community already a lost paradise, not only because of the culture gap and the time lag, but because the double displacement of language and historical moment was itself what was most poignant about remembering oneself watching these films: nostalgia and regret became integral parts of what made Hollywood a personal and subjective movie experience as well as the formative experience of growing up in a post-war Europe. What strikes one about his gangster trilogy is the discovery of a theme which in both Godard and Melville is much more muted: a vulnerable masculinity behind the macho façade, suffering attacks of sexual anxiety beneath the tough-guy mannerisms. Challenged about this at the time of GODS OF THE PLAGUE, Fassbinder is supposed to have mumbled, ‘you’re right, it’s probably a homosexual film’. The New Naivety Fassbinder began filmmaking at a moment when a battle of sorts came to be waged over the
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