The Film (4/5)
There is something about Fassbinder's films that deeply resonates with me on a personal level anytime I sit down to watch one. Fassbinder's films rarely concerned themselves with the upper and middle class of German society, and rather focused on the working class misfits that society tends to ignore. Fox and his Friends one of 4 films made in 1975 by the director concentrates on one such individual.
Fox as the film opens is a talking head in a carnival sideshow. He is an optimistic individual, and spends a little bit of his weekly earnings on a lottery ticket knowing one day he is sure to win it. One day, he does, and a man he had recently begun dating Eugen takes advantage of the situation. First by getting Fox to help his family get their bookbinding company back on its feet, and then getting an expensive apartment with lavish furniture that is inline with Eugen's expensive taste, but not with Fox' more simple style. This contrast between Fox' working class and Eugen's upper class lifestyles begins to almost immediately create issues for the developing relationship, and it becomes immediately apparent, that things are not perfect between the two of them.
Fox and his Friends is top tier Fassbinder. It is a first class drama that creates a series of compelling and interesting characters from the first frame to the last. Fox is quite an interesting character who begins the film in a very charming and positive way, and has quite the string of good luck, only to find his fortune taken advantage of by someone at a much higher social and economic standing. It is watching it from this perspective that one begins to see the social subtext that Fassbinder was elegantly weaving into the film. The direction from Fassbinder is stunning, and he offers some quite elegant visuals, with solid pacing. The performances from the main cast are quite fitting to the material.
Criterion in conjunction with the R.W. Fassbinder Foundation presents Fox and his Friends in a splendid 1:37:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer from a 4k scan. Everything here looks quite natural, with detail coming through strong, blacks being solid, and colors being quite stable. There is some minor softness but that is to be expected.
The audio is presented via an LPCM mono track in English. The audio comes across clear and crisp throughout the presentation.
We get a series of interviews 2 new interviews exclusive to this release. One with actor Harry Baer, and one with filmmaker Ira Sachs. We also get an an excerpt from a 1975 TV interview with Fassbinder. There is also clips from a 1981 interview with the film's composer Peer Raben. The disc is rounded off by a trailer, and printed liner notes.
Fox and his Friends is an absolute powerhouse drama from director Fassbinder. The Blu-ray from Criterion looks and sounds fabulous. Extras aren't over the top, but interesting and informative. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.