Mar 21, 2014
If someone reworked and updated Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s masterful Sirkian melodrama Angst essen Seele auf (1974) aka Ali: Fear Eats the Soul about two decades later and completely extinguished the film of all hope, beauty, dignity, and true romance, it would probably resemble Mau Mau (1992) directed by underrated German auteur Uwe Schrader. The third and final chapter in Schrader’s ‘Proletarian Trilogy’ (following Kanakerbraut (1984) aka White Trash and Sierra Leone (1987)), Mau Mau not only features a brown Islamic ‘Gastarbeiter’ named Ali with a stereotypical weakness for white women, but also conspicuously unflattering lower-middle class krauts that would even make Fassbinder himself cringe in abject disgust. Indeed, while the previous two films in Schrader’s trilogy might be exceedingly disconcerting and unwaveringly culturally pessimistic in their own right, Mau Mau seems to take the moldy cake in terms of being the director’s most eclectically melancholy-inducing work, yet at the same it is also his funniest and most accessible to date. Unfortunately, Mau Mau is also Schrader’s swansong thus making it a sort of cinematic eulogy for auteurism in Deutschland as a work in the spirit of the great films of German New Cinema, as well as a work that quite fittingly depicts the Fatherland as a drunk and senile cultural, spiritual, and emotional void of a nation with no hope, let alone a future. Starring Peter Franke, who previously played the lead in the first film of the director’s trilogy, Mau Mau demonstrates that the vicious circle of poverty, alcoholism, loveless sex, spiritual retardation, American trash culture worship, multiculturalism-based race-hate, and melancholy have only became all the more malignant since the eight years when the director first debuted his archetypical ‘everyman’ working-classic kraut hero via White Trash. A revolting social realist work about revolting people doing revolting things and not thinking twice about doing them, Mau Mau—a work centering around a sleazy strip club that is facing being shut down permanently due to poor business—is the sort of authentic and unflattering yet truly ‘humanistic’ proletarian cinema that commie and neo-commie agitpropagandists ranging from Dziga Vertov to Helke Sander were too disingenuous to cinematically portray. In other words, Mau Mau is a loving (anti)tribute to all the hard working people who drink, fight, and fuck like they won’t live to drink, fight, and fuck the next day.
Heinz (Peter Franke) is an emotionally beaten down man who has never gotten over the fact that his career as a professional soccer player ended prematurely after he suffered a complex fracture of his leg a couple decades back. At the same time he injured his leg, his girlfriend Inge (Marlen Diekhoff) left him, thus adding insult to injury and also ruining his perspective on love and romance. Flash forward decades later, Heinz is now in a ‘complicated’ relationship with Inge, who owns a titty bar named ‘Mau Mau’ that she blows a good amount of her ex-soccer star boyfriend's money on. The strip club has certainly seen better days and Inge hopes to save her failing business by glamouring an elderly and rather repulsive religious man named Kowalik (Henryk Bista), who follows a charlatan South American preacher named Brother Miguel and has a fancy flashing crucifix light at his apartment, into giving her all his money. Heinz is friends with a rather repulsive pug-nosed conman named Ferdi (Peter Gavajda) who, in between scamming old acquaintances out of money and nasty slags out of their panties, is busy getting his best friend beat up by people he owes money to. Aside from strippers with itty bitty titties, Inge’s foremost employee at Mau Mau is a swarthy skank named Rosa (Catrin Striebeck) who, being a dirty gutter queen who is willing to give her body to anyone, dates an abusive Arab who everyone calls ‘Ali’ and who is fully committed to debasing white women as demonstrated by his remark regarding a lady of his own race, “You’re better off dead than with one like her.” When Ali ends up beating Rosa one too many times (a black eye is a big ‘no, no’ in regard to her profession), the lecherous lady decides to start screwing Heinz, but, as can be expected when in a seedy environment where alcohol is drunk as freely as water and romantic attachment and monogamy are virtually nonexistent, the affair is short-lived. Meanwhile, one of Ferdi’s friends parades around his Thai prostitute girlfriend, ‘Honey’, like a true slave of jungle fever like so many weak-minded white men do nowadays. When Ferdi remarks regarding the Asian quasi-hooker, “Imported, after all…They still obey at least,” her sub-Aryan sugar daddy replies that oriental chicks are not a submissive as he thinks, stating of his relationship with his girlfriend, “No money, no honey!,” as if it is an honorable thing to be a pseudo-high-class hooker. Like all stupid chicks who are attracted to physically abusive guys, Rosa attempts to get back with Ali, but he has already found himself another desperate white woman, so she bashes out her bastard ex-beau’s apartment windows and tries to hook up with a rich Dutch degenerate with a pansy ponytail who firmly believes, “Italy is dirty.” As a woman who lives by the sophisticated, bitter bitch Weltanschauung “fuck all men,” Inge decides to sell her body and soul to old man Kowalik by marrying him, thus saving her strip club from going out of the business. In the end, Heinz tries to kiss and grope Inge in front of elderly cuck Kowalik and hundreds of other people and he almost gets the beating of a lifetime from a gang of untermenschen bouncers as a result. Still, Heinz goes back to Inge, though whether she lets him back in her apartment again or not remains to be seen.
A sort of post-Fassbinder anti-Cheers from Teutonic prole drunkard pandemonium featuring arguably the most physically and mentally repugnant kraut characters in German cinema history, Mau Mau ultimately makes early-1990s metropolitan Deutschland seem like a post-industrial ghetto on the brink of becoming a third world nation, hence its thriving Negro and Turk populations. Indeed, as reprehensible as he is, darkie Ali is no that different from most of the white characters of Mau Mau, aside from the fact he moronically punches women in the face as opposed to merely smacking them around like gutter-level conman Ferdi (who, not suprisingly, later hires Ali to help him steal goods from other whites). Additionally, aside from hapless antihero Heinz, not a single character is fair-skinned and blond-haired, let alone resembling archetypical Aryan beauty, which probably has to do with the fact that many of the characters in the film are played by Slavic actors. Of course, Mau Mau is not total unwavering ugliness, as the film features a punk rendition of “My Way” in German by East German mischling Nina Hagen that sounds a lot like musically retarded junky Sid Vicious’ cover of the song, albeit slightly less goofy. Unfortunately, the semi-good music ends there as the film features a number of American pop rock hits that one would expect to hear at any blue collar bar in the Unites States, thus demonstrating that postmodern rebbe Karl Marx might have been on to something when he described how the workers of the world had a lot in common, though the failed bourgeois philosopher seems to be wrong about them actually uniting as the characters of Mau Mau would not rebel against their overlords if their lives depended on it, as they much rather get thoroughly inebriated and date rape some sub-homely married chick with genital warts.
Undoubtedly, as a person who has always despised drunks and the barroom lifestyle (I once worked as a bouncer and despite the ease of the job and relatively decent pay, I would never do it again), I found Mau Mau to be my worst nightmare come to life and the fact that it is set in Germany—a nation I regard as being the most culturally rich place in Europe, at least as far as the last couple of centuries are concerned—made it all the more of a dirty and unsettling experience, as if witnessing post-sanity Nietzsche staring into space and smiling moronically while laying in his hospital as his nurse takes hits of rum from a flask. Indeed, Mau Mau is Deutschland stripped away of all kultur and dignity, where the lumpenproles and untermenschen have become one after being thrown into an American-made multicultural blender mixed with cheap booze and Cyndi Lauper mix-tapes. Aside from depicting the long-term consequences for the German working-class as a result of the nation’s defeat during the Second World War nearly half a century later, Mau Mau is also a misery-ridden melodrama about the slow and painful death that is aging, as demonstrated by such lines as titty bar owner Inge’s remark to her on-and-off-again boyfriend Heinz, “My god, you used to be such a hunk. I was proud of you. You had such a spring in your step. What happened to it? What happened to us?...” If I were to guess, I would assumed the used-up, downtrodden, and decidedly degenerate characters just got out of a Soviet gulag, but they are merely the victims of their own failure, inaction, and addictions. In what is indubitably one of the most important scenes of Mau Mau, Heinz visits his father, who pleads to his son, “I want an anonymous burial. No flowers, no gravestone. That only costs money. Bury the urn in the yard. No cemetery maintenance for you. You don’t have time for that anyway,” as if he wants all evidence of his existence erased from history like he is too ashamed of his misspent life that he will somehow feel shame even when he is dead. Of course, as a nation of people that is incessantly reminded by Hollywood and the rest of the world that an Austrian peasant with a Charlie Chaplin mustache led them into wasting six million Jews (and quite a bit more Russians, though they do not seem as resentful about it), it is easy to see why Heinz’s papi would express such an extreme wish. Personally, I cannot possibly see how the Germany depicted in Mau Mau is superior to that of the Third Reich, but then again I think Steven Spielberg is autistic asshole.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 11:22 PM
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