American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"House of the Sleeping Beauties" has missed its ideal release window by about 40 years. It might -- might -- have found an audience in that transitional period between soft- and hard-core, when men would sit through anything to see a breast, but even then, I dunno. It's discouraging to see a movie where the women sleep through everything. They don't even have the courtesy to wake up and claim to have a headache.
I know I am being disrespectful to what is obviously intended to be a morose meditation about youth, age, men, women, children, mothers, hookers, johns, life, death and the endless possibilities I thought of at 16 when I heard that song "Behind the Green Door." This German-language movie has been inspired by a 1961 novella by Yasunari Kawabata, who explores the now obsolete Japanese theory that a woman should be seen but not heard. Even then, they were supposed to wake up sometimes and speak submissively.
The film centers on five scenes in which Edmond, a dying man in his 60s (Vadim Glowna, who also directed), lies in bed next to sleeping nude women of about 20, all breathtakingly beautiful, and delivers a mournful interior soliloquy about his age, their perfection, his mother, a childhood sexual experience and his own misery. This is an intensely depressing experience for Edmond, and for us, intensified by his robotic smoking habit. Sometimes he shakes a woman or slaps her on her butt, but if anything is going to wake her up, his breath will.
Surrounding these scenes is a plot more intriguing than they deserve involving Edmond's old friend, Kogi (Maximilian Schell), who advised him to visit the brothel in the first place. Kogi is concerned that Edmond is still so depressed by the death of his wife and young daughter in an auto accident. This happened 15 years ago. I think the human ability to heal ourselves is such that, after 15 years, you can expect to be sad and deeply regretful, but if you are still clinically depressed, you need medical attention.