Neurosia: Fifty Years of Perversion

on November 02, 1995 by Kim Williamson
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   A faux documentary about the death and remembered life of underground German filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim, "Neurosia: Funfzig Jahre Pervers" captured the best gay film prize at the '95 Locarno fest. One would pray that means it was the only gay film at the fest, because this is alternative moviemaking in the Ed Wood school. Inept scene disconnectedly follows inept scene, with the maverick director (a first-generation Gregg Araki) more interested in shock and very safe self-parody than in looking back with real insight over a heralded/even-more-reviled career that began in 1970 with the ground-breaking "Die Bettwurst" ("Bed Sausage") and "It's Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Situation in Which He Lives." Ostensibly, the story is propelled by the investigations of platinum-blonde TV journalist Gesine Ganzman-Seipel (cabaret performer Desiree Nick) and her conversations with those who knew and loved, or more often hated, von Praunheim. (He took the female name Rosa in remembrance of the pink triangle the Nazis forced homosexuals to wear during the Third Reich; after viewing "Neurosia," one wonders whether von Praunheim adopted the moniker out of camp value, not realizing the heavy responsibility it carried.)
   Although footage of and mementos from von Praunheim's long life ("50 Years of Perversity" is the subtitle's translation) provide the promise of poignant windows on the man and the gay rights movement he helped launch, the director fritters them away, making sure to change tracks by inserting masturbation and masturbatory sequences and simply silly frou-frou suited only for a very specialized specialized audience. Like "Man of the Year" before it, "Neurosia" suggests that self-documentary leads only to jokery, puffery or, at best, false revelation. Starring Desiree Nick and Rosa von Praunheim. Directed and produced by Rosa von Praunheim. Written by Valentin Passoni. A First Run release. Drama. German-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 87 min
Tags: Rosa von Praunheim, mockumentary, sexuality, filmmaking, Desiree Nick, Gregg Araki, foreign, German
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