Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sex at Film Forum! Rob Schröder & Gabriëlle Provaas' MEET THE FOKKENS follows Ruth Lingford's LITTLE DEATHS

Ah, sex! Ah, Film Forum! Put the two together and, as those of you familiar with the latter (we're all, I hope, familiar with the former) might expect, we're going to get something a little different. In MEET THE FOKKENS, the new documentary from Rob Schröder and Gabriëlle Provaas, we indeed meet Louise and Martine Fokkens, identical-twin prostitutes working out of Amsterdam's famous red-light district. Ummmmm! Oh, wait: I should tell you that only Martine is currently working, as Louise's arthritis grew so bad that the poor woman, as she explains, could no longer get one leg over the other. These twins, you see, are 70 years old.

Lest you imagine that this film, due to its protagonists' age, is going to be somehow non-sexual, forget it. We see some hard cock along the way -- well, semi-erect, at least: Martine's clients are as old or older than the gal who services them. That servicing, it must be said, has now come down to mostly hand jobs and a little dominatrix work. Sex may be the hook here, but what Ms Provaas (below) and Mr. Schröder (at left) are really dealing in is life, aging, history and humanity in all its complexity -- with much of this, at least as we see it here, remark-ably benign. Some of you may have to divest yourself
of certain sexual hang-ups to appreciate the film: The need for and enjoyment of sex does not end, shockingly enough, with the loss of wrinkle-free skin and six-pack abs. Fortunately, the filmmakers, along with their subjects  have invested enough time and enegy to come up with some lovely early photos and film footage of the twins as girls and young women. We see how attractive and full of life they were (still are!) and how one of them fell in love with a rotter who soon had her working the streets for him. Sister joined the act, it seems, purely out of familial loyalty.

In any case, a solid career was born and the ladies subsisted on it for decades. We meet the married Fokkens' daughter who still, it appears, has a relationship with her dad, despite mom's annoyance. We see the Fokkens at work, above, and at play, below, and we begin to understand how they continue to thrive. (They've both become artists in their old age.)

We note how government representatives or maybe these are religious people -- This was not all that clear to me, but the friend with whom I attended the screening tells me that they are both -- try to help, as well as trying to direct these ladies' lives perhaps a bit too much. Overall, we're left with the sense that this particular story and these women simply could not exist in our own culturally and sexually backward America with anything approaching the kindness, care and tolerance we see here. The movie -- together with these gals -- is one for the books. From Kino Lorber and just 75 minutes long, Meet the Fokkens opens this Wednesday, August 8, at Film Forum for a two-week run. Click here for showtimes and/or tickets.

Also on the program -- shown first, in fact -- is a delightful, sexy, funny and thoughtful animated short called LITTLE DEATHS (the term often used for orgasms), directed and animated by Ruth Lingford, who currently teaches animation at Harvard. Running just eleven minutes, the film offers up a wealth of visuals to accompany the musings of various folk on what the experience of orgasm is like. The responses range from the glorious (we hear a man's voice tell of getting fucked to the point of orgasm, of giving and receiving simultaneously) to the amusing ("It makes me think of broccoli": Justice Scalia would be proud!), while the visuals are even better: gorgeous, sexual though not explicit, and wonderfully malleable. In one instance a cunt changes into a cathedral -- or is it the other way around?

A near-constant visual delight in various styles (there's a lovely Leda & the Swan motif early on), the remarks that accompany the animation are quite special, too -- none more so than the person who notes, "To be able to produce such a grand feeling in someone else is a wonderful thing." Little Deaths (2010), directed and animated by Ruth Lingford, will open along with Meet the Fokkens, this Wednesday, August 8, at Film Forum. Click here to see dates and times: the short immediately precedes the longer features.

No comments: