Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Berlin Film Festival Diaries
Report #5 (February 22)

by Marcia Pally

February 22, 1996

My personal life, and cosmetics line, must be in worse shape than I think. I have reached the stage where I am too old for men to come rushing to my rescue when I fall on icy sidewalks and too young for men to rush to the rescue when I fall... I end up on my ass because you Berliners refuse to salt your sidewalks, letting ice accumulate and entrap reasonable people like myself. I've been told you don't salt sidewalks in order to protect the trees from environmental damage. Surely admirable, but my dears, hasn't anyone explained that you salt the cement, not the trees. More importantly, why is protecting tree limbs more important than protecting mine? I propose a deal: you keep your icy sidewalks and I'll slip on them if you arrange for some attractive fellow to help me up.

This at least is a more reasonable view of the sexes than Bertrand Blier's "Mon Homme", which proposes that women are so desperate for men that they all secretly want to be prostitutes, that stunningly beautiful women can get satisfaction only when abused by filthy, arrogant slobs, etc. etc. etc. Blier probably thinks women secretly lust to rescue men who slip on icy sidewalks. And people complain about Robert L Rodriguez's 's fun with male fantasies ("From Dusk Till Dawn"). Some "Mon Homme" viewers suggested that Blier, who has something misogynist in all his films, made the movie for the last scene, where the hero begs women for forgiveness. The suggestion is that the hero speaks for the director. Blier will have to do a good deal more to get my forgiveness. He could, for starters, follow me around, on his knees, in case I slip in the snow.


Never mind. I've met someone I'd rather have follow me around. I met him at the Cine Center; he offered me a candy bar. This brings to mind Dorothy Parker's poem-ette about men's gifts: why is it never furs or a limousine, do you suppose, why is it always one perfect rose?

To the candy-bar bearer: I'd take a perfect rose.


Mr. Blier and Mr. Candy Bar clearly are a bit rusty about sex. But I'm not sure the Germans are any better. I noted the new, expanded Erotic Museum with its clean, white neon sign set half a block from the center of town, the main Zoo Palast theater and the Gedaechtnis Church. This is a mistake. Sex shops should be tacky and ashamed, so you know you're doing something wrong so you can enjoy it. Sex shops are not supposed to compete with Toys "R" Us.


At long last, a film from Israel with no political import. "Saint Clara" even surpasses in eccentricity the Panorama film "Chacun Cherche Son Chat" -- yet another piece of charming French fluff. And rarely can anyone surpass the French in pointlessness (see Blier, above). "Saint Clara" does get around to being about optimism, but only in the quirkiest sense. Everyone's fantasies get a day in the sun. A math teacher believes he beat Bobby Fisher at chess when he was in 'Nam. A high school principal proclaims that in 1961 he spent the night with Edith Piaf who in the morning wrote about him in the song "Non, je ne regrette rien," which he proceeds to sing. When my tribe starts to sing that they regret nothing, we are lightening up.

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