Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Fassbinder’s second feature depicts the intolerance of a circle of financially and sexually frustrated friends when an immigrant laborer moves to their Munich neighborhood, exposing a paranoid hostility to outsiders and latent currents of bourgeois fascism. This Greek newcomer, played with impish deadpan innocence by the director himself, becomes an object of cautious curiosity and the inevitable catalyst for their group’s previously suppressed internal conflict. Titled for a Bavarian slang pejorative for “foreign worker” (literally “maker of little cats,” and suggestive of a pronounced sexual promiscuity), this scalpel-sharp experiment, based on one of Fassbinder’s successful early plays and drawing on avant-garde theatrical techniques, is both a personal expression of alienation and a comment on the persistence of xenophobic scapegoating in German society. A stark black-and-white depiction of a world where boredom feeds self-hatred and violence, this is one of Fassbinder’s most curious and provocative films.