The Man Who Envied Women

Strangely enough, modern dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer was known throughout the 60s and early 70s as a minimalist. Yet for more than two decades she’s been making experimental quasi-narrative films of increasing density, culminating in this angry, vibrant film of 1985 that, in her words, takes on the housing shortage, changing family patterns, the poor pitted against the middle class, Hispanics against Jews, artists and politics, female menopause, abortion rights. There’s even a dream sequence. Working with the speeches and writings of more than a dozen figures, ranging from Raymond Chandler to Julia Kristeva, Rainer confronts and parodies male theoretical discourse (Michel Foucault in particular, sampled and discussed in extended chunks) as a mode of sexual seduction. Politics has been present in all her features, but usually folded into so many distancing devices it comes out mainly dressed in quotes; here she allows it to speak more directly and eloquently, letting it charge the rest of the filmrightly assuming we could all use a few jolts. (JR)

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