Aug 2, 2014

Manila (2000)

Although just mere speculation based on a lifelong obsession with cinema and over a decade of studying film, I am going to have to assume that Germans are easily the most cinematically besmirched, reviled, and mocked people in cinema history, with Hebraic Hollywood doing the majority of this beaten-to-death post-WWII Teutophobia (of course, anti-German sentiment goes back at least to the time of the First World War, with Hollywood playing a central role in the hate-campaign against those evil ‘Huns’). Indeed, from chief rabbi of the celluloid holocaust Steven Spielberg to infantile toilet-humor comedies like DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story (2004) and Brüno (2009) to philo-Semitic pseudo-arthouse fag Wes Anderson, Hollywood has every angle of kraut-bashing covered, so it seems absolutely unnecessary that German filmmakers themselves would wallow in Germanophobia, yet such filmmakers exist as demonstrated by various directors associated with German New Cinema from the late-1960s to the early-1980s, with Volker Schlöndorff being one of the major pioneers of the so-called ‘anti-Heimat’ (aka ‘anti-homeland’ film) sub-genre. Of course, like any so-called ‘progressive’ nation, Deutschland has received its fair share of untermenschen immigrants from the global south, especially of the Turkish and/or Muslim sort, including a number of filmmakers like Sohrab Shahid Saless (Utopia, Hans - Ein Junge in Deutschland), Kutlug Ataman (Lola and Billy the Kid aka Lola + Bilidikid), and Fatih Akın (The Edge of Heaven, Head-on), who have all paid back their host nation with celluloid Hun-hating. Unquestionably, one of the more curious cases of ‘Teutophobia’ (if it can even be called that) inside of Germany is the work of contemporary arthouse auteur Romuald Karmakar (The Deathmaker aka Der Totmacher, Nightsongs aka Die Nacht singt ihre Lieder) who, although German by way of birth (he was born in Wiesbaden) and culture, is the racially schizophrenic progeny of an Indian man and a French woman (though one would not be able to tell this by looking at him, as he looks like some sort of Nordic/Mediterranean mix). Of course, as his first feature The Deathmaker (1995)—a work clearly inspired by Fritz Lang’s M (1931) and possibly Ulli Lommel’s Fassbinder-produced masterpiece The Tenderness of Wolves (1973) aka Die Zärtlichkeit der Wölfe—demonstrates, Karmakar clearly considers himself a part of some sort of Teutonic cinematic heritage, albeit a mostly unflattering one filled with sodomite serial killers, genocidal Nazis, and majorly melancholy bourgeois degenerates. Influenced by the revolutionary auteur filmmakers of German New Cinema (in fact, he once worked as an assistant to Bavarian absurdist artisti Herbert Achternbusch on the 1989 film Mix Wix) and punk rock, Karmakar has assembled a striking and reasonably subversive oeuvre that his given him a mostly deserved reputation as one of the few interesting and provocative contemporary German filmmakers. Starting with the amateur feature Eine Freundschaft in Deutschland (1985) aka A Friendship in Germany, which features the director playing Adolf Hitler, Karmakar has also demonstrated a lifelong obsession with Teutonic history and kultur, but of course, it is of mostly the dark and negative sort.

 Undoubtedly, more than any of the director’s other films, Manila (2000) demonstrates Karmakar’s love-hate relationship with German history. Promoted with the totally tasteless tagline, “No Matter How Far You Travel, You'll Always Be a Bastard!,” the film was almost unanimously trashed by German film critics and filmgoers upon its release to the point where Karmakar apparently felt the need to personally apologize for the film when introducing it at German film festivals. Indeed, as Elke de Wit wrote regarding the film for the Central Europe Review: “The verdict of every single person that I spoke to about MANILA (2000) at the 51st Berlinale was negative. The film was described as boring, predictable, portraying stereotypical Germans and bringing nothing new […] my suspicions were further aroused when Karmakar virtually apologised for his film as he introduced it to the audience. He said that he did not know why it had been treated so disparagingly by everybody and that he had never intended to offend anyone. He had simply wanted to tell the story of all these individuals.” Indeed, depicting a group of Germans stuck at a crowded Philippine airport as a bunch of loud, boorish, brash, vain, prideful, racist, homophobic alcoholic-addled kraut neo-colonialist perverts who sexually and financially exploit yellow people and act with an unwarranted sense of superiority, Manila is certainly more intricately anti-Teutonic than a piece of xenophiliac pseudo-arthouse hipster trash like Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited (2007) where a smartass young American Hebraic hipster type tells off some loud, fag, and ugly elderly German tourists, as if American Jews are the world's foremost patrons of civility. Of course, as a work featuring Fassbinder superstar Margit Carstensen (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven) and Edgar Wallace star Eddi Arent playing himself (and even performing a mock murder mystery), as well as popular contemporary Germany actors like Sky du Mont (Derrick, Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut), kraut comedian Herbert Feuerstein, Martin Semmelrogge (Das Boot, Derrick), and Jürgen Vogel (Rosenstraße, The Free Will aka Der freie Wille), Manila is a work that wallows in Teutonic cinema history of both the cultivated and kitschy sort. It should also be noted that the film was co-written by German novelist Bodo Kirchhhoff, so he certainly deserves some of the blame for the film’s Teuton-trashing. A sort of intentionally claustrophobic tragicomedy featuring kraut-cock-loving Jewesses, unsavory sub-Aryan sex tourists, prosaic Jew-pandering school teachers, and pseudo-suave psychopathic airline managers all trapped with one another at a Philippine airport as they wait while in an increasingly agitated state to get back to the Fatherland, Manila unwittingly reveals why traveling aboard can ironically lead to one adopting more nationalistic views. 

Beginning with footage on a television of a seemingly half-crazed and flaming gay Filipino Christian preacher demanding that his followers “bow your heads” to the “lord” while crying in a creepy fashion, Manila instantly gives the viewer the feeling that the Philippines is a rather culturally and spiritually confused nation due to various Occidental influences.  Of course, the Spanish are gone, but now other Europeans, including the Germans, use the Southeast Asian island as their own personal playground. The bourgeois krauts at Manila airport are less than happy as there is a delay for their flight, so they must pass the time by getting drunk and mingling with one another. The guy in charge of the airport, Jochen Osterfeld (Sky du Mont), is a pseudo-charming psychopathic prick that has the gall to ask his hot archetypically Aryan blonde flight attendant named Kerstin (Nina Heimlich), “are you menstruating again?,” after he becomes offended by her tone of voice.  Married teachers Regine (Margit Carstensen) and Knut Görler (Peter Rühring) no longer enjoy one another’s company, so the latter begins chatting with an extroverted fellow on the brink of old age named Walter (played by Michael Degen, who previously starred in Roland Klick’s kraut cult classic Supermarkt), who has married a native named Maribel (Chin Chin Gutierrez) and proudly states of his financially beneficial marriage arrangement, “He who marries a Filipina, also marries a whole Philippine village.”  Walter is going back to Germany to bury his lifelong comrade Kurt who he met while just a child in the ‘Volkssturm’ (A militia setup during remaining days of WWII comprised of underage boys and old men) and who was a tough man that survived everything, including malaria, but ultimately succumbed to a foul filipina’s deadly diseased snatch. Walter also credits his dead friend Kurt for cleaning up the Philippines by remarking, “It used to be a real nut house before. The lowest level, fags, transvestites…all mixed up. But then Klaus came and cleaned it all up.”   

 Naturally, brainwashed liberal educator Regine takes some offense to Walter's remarks and states regarding herself and her semi-cuckolded husband Knut, “We don’t think like that, Mr. Walter. We are both teachers. German and History. And when we for example were in Prague or Warsaw…we knew exactly what that meant. Not only Hradschine…but also Heydrich. Not only ghetto, but also Brandt.”  Unluckily for Regine, Knut begins to take a special likening towards alpha-male Walter as he makes him feel more like a real mensch.  Meanwhile, a creepy looking kraut named Herbert (played by Manfred Zapatka, who read a 3-hour Heinrich Himmler speech for Karmakar’s 2000 experimental documentary Das Himmler-Projekt aka The Himmler Project), who looks like an older, fatter, and more alien-like version of Conan O'Brien, and his much younger cousin Rudi (Jürgen Vogel) begin chatting up a German-speaking Jewess named Elizabeth (played by mainstream Hollywood actress Elizabeth McGovern, who has starred in everything from Robert Redford's Ordinary People to Kick-Ass) whose parents fled Deutschland in 1937 but decided it was ok to comeback to the country when charismatic crypto-commie West German chancellor Willy Brandt won the glorious Noble Peace Prize. Herbert is such a patent pig that he makes his introduction to Elizabeth by letting her see a piece of paper with the name “Heike” written on it and then subsequently revealing that it is his wife’s name and that it was “written by a pussy” (indeed, apparently the pathetic guy paid a Filipino prostitute a pretty penny to put a paintbrush in her pussy). When Rudi remarks to Elizabeth, “That’s interesting, I never spoke to a Jewess…” and Herbert retorts, “There aren’t many left in our country anyway…Don’t get me wrong,” the Jewess replies to them by strangely stating, “I get you right, don’t worry. We’re all not kosher.” After revealing her seemingly ethno-masochistic fetish for Aryan men, Elizabeth recites poetry that acts as a major theme of the film: “A German at home…that’s an ideal world and for that reason not very interesting […] A German far away from home…that’s always a small, open wound.” 

In a feeble attempt to appease the increasingly agitated German passengers, airport manager Jochen Osterfeld brings out old school German star Eddi Arent as entertainment and proudly states that the man has starred in 28 Edgar Wallace films (Rudi corrects him by stating, “In 29, you fag!”). To keep them entertained, Arent plays out a mock murder mystery in the middle of the airport and boorish bastard Herbert is fittingly named as the killer after the actor uses Thomas Mann’s classic 1912 novel Death in Venice as a clue. Meanwhile, a degenerate Austrian would-be-pimp pervert named Franz (Martin Semmelrogge), who has a pathological obsession with showing off his prized “redwing shoes” and lurks around the bathroom as if he owns the place, attempts to hook up various German tourists with Filipino prostitutes and even shows nerd Knut photographs of filthy-looking Flip gashes, to which the teacher remarks regarding his wife’s ‘Casa Vulva’, “Regine’s does look different.” Although it is never made clear who she actually is, a Filipino janitor that resembles an obese 12-year-old American Indian boy named Mercy (Ces Quesada) is constantly at Franz's side and she seems to take pride in the fact that she is with the most spastic, degenerate, and seemingly half-autistic Austrian in all of the Philippines. Meanwhile, Herbert becomes agitated while talking to his cousin Rudi about his wife and it is soon revealed that the angry kraut is secretly receiving a blowjob from a Filipino under the table, as if receiving oral sex makes him all the more angry and hateful.  Of course, eventually everyone at the airport notices Herbert's indiscretion and Jewess Elizabeth sardonically remarks while alluding to the holocaust regarding the unsavory scenario, “If Buchenwald had seen more of that, the Germans would be better off now.”  Since he did not get to finish what he began with the flip flirtina cop-all, Hotheaded Herbert opts for going solo and unloading his sub-Aryan seed in the bathroom and fucked Franz, who seems to be on the verge of suffering a cataclysmic autistic fit, follows him and goes completely crazy, accusing him off owing him money for hooking up with a prostitute (for whatever reason, Franz seems to think both Filipino women and the airport bathroom are his own personal property). While furiously masturbating, Herbert begins to weep while Franz continues to pound on the bathroom stall in an increasingly fanatical and spasmodic fashion.  After everything is said and done, Hebert busts a load in the toilet and Franz's fat untermensch lady friend leaves him, but not before calling him a “cheater” and a “pig.”  At the other end of the airport, Knut’s wife Regine, who is quite mousy and hopelessly introverted, starts a conversation with Walter’s young Filipina wife Maribel about how she and her husband fought for 20 years to set up a memorial for the Jews, “so the remembrance of the holocaust should not fade,” as if the so-called Shoah is not thrown in German peoples' faces 24/7.  Meanwhile, hyper horny kraut Rudi manages to get his miscegenation on with Jewess Elizabeth, thus hinting that there might finally be peace between Germans and Jews. At the end of the film, all the German passengers get together in a dichotomous scene depicting the two extremes of German kultur; as what starts with Knut conducting an imaginary orchestra devolves into a beer-hall sing-a-long song worthy of the drunkest of brownshirts. The scene becomes all the more significant when one considers what director Karmakar once said regarding the film: “I see this film as one great human orchestra. It was my task to write the score so that it didn't degenerate into a cacophony, but produced a melody in five bars or acts.”  Of course, in the end, the Germans finally make their way back to Deutschland, but not before leaving their irreparable mark on the Southeast Asian island.

 A rare German ‘dramedy’ that is not totally retarded, completely unfunny, and aesthetically insipid like Good Bye Lenin! (2003) and countless horrendous Til Schweiger films, Manila is ultimately a rare film that attempts to depict both the good and bad regarding the German people without resorting to too many cliché kraut stereotypes (of course, the film features many of the typical stereotypes, but also features a couple of new ones as well). Indeed, a work of cultivated krautsploitation directed by a man who seems more influenced by Brecht than Russ Meyer, Karmakar’s quasi-chamber-piece (or ‘neo-Kammerspielfilm’) is softcore Teutophobia with a bittersweet heart that, unlike the cinematic works of an adamant anti-kraut like Spielberg, features next to nil ill will to the Teutons, but instead merely pokes fun at their supposed quirks and idiosyncrasies in a rather playful, if not sometimes borderline pernicious, fashion. That being said, I can practically imagine Karmakar during pre-production of the work driving around in his car while blasting Rammstein and dreaming up scenarios for the film. More than anything, Manila—with its large cast of curious characters, long scenes of dialogue, and somewhat minimalistic laidback style—seems like an aberrant Aryan take on the theatric yet naturalistic and mostly plot-less films of American auteur Robert Altman (Nashville, Short Cuts). While not exactly as good as Karmakar’s minor masterpiece Deathmaker, Manila is unquestionably infinitely more interesting than Spielberg’s similarly themed Tom Hanks vehicle The Terminal (2004). With its overt and not so overt references to the holocaust and cast of mostly homely (if not sometimes downright ugly) krauts, not to mention the fact that the film received a considerably negative backlash in Germany, Manila is a film that should have inspired some new young German auteur filmmakers to direct films that more adequately depict their countrymen just as the laughably horrendous Hollywood miniseries Holocaust (1978) inspired Edgar Reitz and various other filmmakers of German New Cinema, who wanted to take their history and heritage back from foreign hands, to create their own masterpieces, but it seems that contemporary Germany has a serious void when it comes to serious auteur filmmakers.  Notably, not one of the characters featured in Karmakar's film seem like they have the capacity to be a great Sturmbannführer, but then again, none of the characters seem like they have what it takes to be a great artist like an F.W. Murnau or even a Max Ernst either, as if the Fatherland is out of geniuses and only has rich boorish assholes who only know how to consume as opposed to produce. While World War II was certainly quite dsygenic for Germany, I do not believe the land of poets and thinkers has completely degenerated into a post-völkisch technocratic nightmare of banal bureaucrats and beer-bellied buffoons.  With that being said, I think communal viewings of Manila and readings of Nietzsche might be more beneficial to the next generation of German film students than analyzing Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin (1925) and learning the latest 'cutting-edge' techniques from industrial filmmakers in Hollywood.  Indeed, a somewhat wicked work of kraut constructive criticism as created by a racial outsider, Karmakar's film is proof that, in some small way, members of the Ausländer community can contribute to society, even if it is virtually always in a 'negative' way.

-Ty E


jervaise brooke hamster said...

I like the picture of the young girls cunt.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to bugger Elizabeth McGovern (as the bird was in 1979 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously). When she was a young bird she was quite stunning but her deterioration over the last 25 years has been absolutely appalling.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Ty E, you and i both know that every day 80 million Krauts are secretly muttering to themselves: "If only J. Robert Oppenheimer had been working for Uncle Adolf circa 1944 then we wouldn`t have had to put up with all this ludicrous and unbearable American nonsense over the last 70 years ! ! ! (although we did like Heather O`Rourke of course, she looked so Aryan and pure)".

the sneering (homo-phobic) snob said...

I`d have to call this film "Girl-ila" ! ! !.

Jennifer Croissant said...

I like that Kraut-flag lapel-pin, that looks really cool.

That Film Enthusiast said...

...half-crazed and flaming gay Filipino Christian preacher demanding that his followers “bow your heads” to the “lord” while crying in a creepy fashion

They're everywhere. Their ubiquitousness is annoying I'd rather shoot myself in the head.

Jennifer Croissant said...

Dont laugh Ty E but its scary to realise that the greatest film ever made is Jacque Demys 1963 masterwork "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" ! ! !.