Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Great Moments In Movie Staches

Proving anew that TCM is the best TV channel there is out of all the TV channels (at least until there's an "All Jake Gyllenhaal's Nude Scenes All The Time" network aka AJGNSATTTV, I suppose) TCM ran Rainer Werner Fassbinder's final hothouse of a film Querelle on Sunday night, meaning an insomniac grandmother in the suburbs of Spokane might've been switching between Lifetime and Rachel Ray reruns and stumbled upon Brad Davis getting plowed beside a preening Cockatoo. What a wonderful world!

Even though I've got the movie on DVD I recorded the airing because let's give TCM them numbers (I have no idea if they keep track of DVR recordings to be honest, but let's pretend they do) and watched the movie for the dozenth time last night. (See my two absolutely riveting tweets on the subject right here.) And now we're all caught up and can get to the mustaches!

I'd forgotten that a mustache is an integral plot point! It's a pointedly complicated plot about doubling but basically Querelle (Brad Davis) is sort of framing his brother Robert (Laurent Malet) for a murder he committed, so he gets his "good friend" Gil (Hanno Pöschl) to dress up like him to go and try to murder the one person who knows Querelle is guilty, Lieutenant Seblon (Franco Nero).

(Speaking of mustaches.) Of course Querelle can't be trusted and it's all a ruse but nobody cares because he's Brad Fucking Davis and they all want to put their dicks in him or vice versa, and so they all happily get murdered or commit murder or cover up murder for him. Hey, I get it!

Anyway Gil comes back from trying to kill for Querelle and Querelle sees him standing there looking just like his brother and he can't keep his hands off of him -- he finally feels love, or what he thinks of as love, in the arms of his brother's mustachioed doppelgänger. As one does.

That's the brother, in case you're having trouble keeping track. Anyway the kissing scene between Querelle and Gil mirrors perfectly with the first time Querelle sees his brother at the brothel at the start of the film -- a moment where they hold each other close while gut punching in mechanical dance-like motions - it's like West Side Story, but miraculously even gayer.

The dedication seen there in text over the shot references Fassbinder's "friendship" with El Hedi ben Salem, his lover and a frequent actor in his films (he's the leading man in Ali Fear Eats the Soul) -- Salem went to prison in 1977 for stabbing three people after he and RWF had broken up; he hung himself in his cell, but Fassbinder didn't hear of his death until the time he was making Querelle in 1982. And of course Fassbinder himself would be dead from drugs before the film came out.

All of this sadness and death hangs over Querelle like a toxic orange cloud of course, but I still maintain it's one of his funniest movies, turning the knob up on no-homo posturing to eleven, twelve, snapping the goddamned thing right off. It's a candy-colored fairy dance where everybody's in on the joke, play-acting butch extremes with their legs in the air at a moment's notice. Peel that mustache off your face, handsome, so I can say I love you and be the top I was always meant to be at last.

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