The Phobophobic Housewife

Margit Carstensen tries to relax by listening to music in Fear of Fear (1975) but it doesn't stop her increasing bouts of anxiety and depression.

Margit Carstensen tries to relax by listening to music in Fear of Fear (1975) but it doesn’t stop her increasing bouts of anxiety and depression.

Films about housewives losing their identity in a marriage or slowly going bonkers from the daily rituals of domesticity are plentiful enough to form their own distinctive subgenre. Among the most intriguing of these films, all of which reflect the specific time and cultural moment in which they were made, are Frank Perry’s Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970), John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Chantal Akerman’s landmark 1975 feature, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quia du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, Dusan Makavejev’s Montenegro (1981), and the curious Canadian indie Dancing in the Dark (1986), directed by Leon Marr. But the one I’d like to highlight and which I had the pleasure of revisiting recently on DVD is Fear of Fear (German title: Angst vor der Angst, 1975), directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Continue reading

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Leonard Cohen’s 1972 Concert Tour

Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire (1972)“If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”  –  Leonard Cohen

Missing in action since it was first filmed by Tony Palmer in 1972, Bird on a Wire, a documentary account of Leonard Cohen’s European tour, finally surfaced on DVD in 2010 after being painstakenly restored frame by frame by the director who described the long, complicated history on the extra audio features. It’s a shame the film didn’t garner more attention upon its DVD debut but for Cohen fans, the documentary is essential viewing and just as candid, raw and intimate as D.A. Pennebaker’s remarkable Bob Dylan portrait, Don’t Look Back (1967), which covered that singer/songwriter’s tour of England in 1965.   Continue reading