The Fears of Ali

I was a little miffed that I’ll be missing a screening of Fassbinder’s “Ali, Fear Eats the Soul” at NY’s Seward Park Library on the LES this Saturday (June 11th, 2022).

No worries, as YouTube has come to the rescue.  I plan to watch this disconsolate film over the weekend, though I shall be watching it alone, whereas part of my interest in seeing it in NY this time round would have been to comparatively observe the audience’s ethnic, income and age distribution.

Would Lincoln Plaza Cinema refugees dominate?

Or would there be at least a smattering of younger, Little Egypt cinephiles?

I’ve seen this movie several times already, in various art house movie theaters that no longer exist, in Manhattan, but never quite in a state one might describe as sober.

I thought at the time that chugging Löwenbräu by the hectoliter at Lüchow’s (which was a block away, in Union Square, from my apartment on 13th Street) prior to showtime befitted the correct state of mind for taking in Fassbinder — or any other European director for that matter.

How could I not be lured by this film? — given that its title comprises my own first name — surely a validation of sorts, during a period when Arabs in film were essentially invisible, except as some loathsome Orientalist or terrorist caricature.

As a tug of the forelock to prolific German directors named Werner from the 70s who deeply influenced me when I lived on the cheap in Greenwich Village in my early 20s, I have just pre-ordered Herzog’s new book, The Twilight World.

“Fear Eats the Soul” was actually released the same year I moved to Manhattan. I might have seen it screen at the New York Film Festival that year. or perhaps later, probably at the nearby Quad cinema, which is still around, further west on same block where I then lived.

Herzog has said, “time is a slippery slope.”

True, as is what Faulkner famously wrote about the past.

I plan to again walk the street of the village this summer; my wife and I are booked to fly back to NYC’s environs on July 6th.

I will pass, this time around, on going barefoot while wearing a djellaba on Uni Place, as I once did on my way to 4th Street late one evening.

What fears ate at my soul then.

Forty-eight years on, it would seem that the city has also yet to elude their massive shadow.

leaving america





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