Category Archives: GLBT Film

“IN CELEBRATION”— Family Trauma in a Family Drama

 

“In Celebration”

Family Trauma in a Family Drama

Amos Lassen

The Shaws (Bill Owen, Constance Chapman) are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary with three of their sons an expensive restaurant. Shaw is a coal miner who has been down the pits for 49 years, with a year left until retirement. Andy (Alan Bates), the oldest, studied to be a solicitor but ultimately decided to  become an artist. Colin (James Bolam) had a brief affair with the Communist party but is now a factory manager and he has adjusted to middle class life. The youngest brother Steven (Brian Cox) is a teacher, married with four children of his own, and writing a book.

There are obviously family traumas that have been repressed. During this celebration, some of the emotion and resentment comes out, particularly in relation to the first born brother Jamie. The action takes place mainly in the claustrophobic setting of the living room of the Shaw house, but does open out with sequences in other rooms and outdoors.

The acting is excellent all around in this story ofa slightly dysfunctional family  and I understand that it shows certain aspects of playwright  David Storey’s own life. There is a lot of repressed pain in it, and it seems to suggest the author had not yet reconciled himself with his family upbringing. The idea of a normal family is torn asunder during the evening as the sons engage in verbal combat that destroys the seemingly “normal” family.

The film is a vehicle for Alan Bates with his singular way of infusing dialogue with cruelty, derision, and self-loathing. As Andy, the family’s ne’er-do-well elder child, he gave up a promising law career to become a painter. Andy is also the keeper of the family’s secrets, and  those secrets gnaw at him. He grabs every opportunity to confront his relatives with evidence of their hypocrisy and inadequacy. The family’s middle child, Colin  is a career-minded conformist about to marry a woman even though he’s a closeted homosexual, and the youngest child, Steven  is a would-be author harboring profound psychological pain even as he wears the mask of a contented husband and father. Meanwhile, the parents have issues of their own—the mother feeds delusions of grandeur by pushing her children toward lofty social positions, and the father deeply regrets spending nearly 50 years working underground just to support a wife he doesn’t understand and sons who seem incapable of happiness.

  “In Celebration” is all about the ways in which families project their dreams and nightmares onto each other. The parents were raised to suffer through their problems, but the sons, ironically, gained the ability to articulate every nuance of their feelings because of the educations foisted upon them by their parents. Bleak and harsh from beginning to end, the film works because Storey plays fair—rather than situating one character as the family’s moral center, he demonstrates how each character is incomplete.

 

 

 

 

 

“THE GARDEN”— A Vision of Destruction and Creation

“THE GARDEN”

A Vision of Destruction and Creation

Amos Lassen

 

 Derek Jarman’s “The Garden” is a mix of artistic set pieces and raw, sometimes abstract footage. But it is also more than that; it is Jarman’s most religious feature. It is made up of a  series of vivid dreamlike vignettes that transpose New Testament events into a contemporary and at times homoerotic context. Jarman strikes out at the foundations of political and religious homophobia by depicting two male lovers persecuted, tortured and crucified for their beliefs and very sexuality. 

“The Garden” is visually striking. Screen projections of intense color, mixed with avant-garde imagery, of the like of the artwork of Pierre et Gilles enhance the viewing experience. These scenes are in stark contrast to sequences of rapid-motion photography, footage that includes the cinematic contribution of Kevin Collins (who Jarman first met in 1987 at the Tyneside Film Festival and who would come to care for Jarman for the final seven years of his life) 

It is totally uncompromising, experimental and poignant as we take a journey of artistic depth; a visual discourse on the two-edged sword that is religion and homosexuality. There is minimal dialogue as we enter and dwell in the garden. Jarman uses the screen like a canvas to showcase his feelings on AIDS, homophobia and ultimately of death itself. This makes it a bit difficult for those who do not appreciate the beauty of abstract imagery.

Jarman returns to images of the four classical elements—fire, water, earth, and air as if the film is trying to give birth to a new world, as if it were a world itself. Aside from the biblical allusion, perhaps that’s what the title of the film refers to. Gardens are microcosms, “life-giving gatherings of water, earth, and air—and fire as well”. The images, through the use of color filters and compositing effects, present us with a trajectory of paradise lost and innocence persecuted. Jarman queers the parables of the Bible, envisioning the devil as a leather daddy (Pete Lee-Wilson), the 12 apostles as middle-aged women in headscarves, Mary Magdalene and Adam as a drag queen (Spencer Leigh), and Jesus as a gay couple (Johnny Mills and Philip MacDonald), or, in some scenes, as Jarman himself. And the filmmaker’s muse, Tilda Swinton is the Madonna, a skull-cap-wearing desert wanderer who suggests an embodiment of Mother Nature herself.

A voiceover narration, written by Jarman and read in the elegant voice of Michael Gough, warns us that “The Garden” is  wil not be interested in conclusions. At the end, as the martyred gay couple—we’ve seen them go through a modern 12 stations of the cross—sit down to a mournful gathering with the rest of the main cast, Gough speaks poetically of the lives lost to the AIDS epidemic: “Old age came quickly for my frosted generation. Cold, cold cold: They died so silently.”

“The Garden” is partly Jarman’s his cry of rage and frustration at being diagnosed with AIDS and about the continued persecution of gay men and above all at the way they had been abandoned during the AIDS crisis. Early on, Swinton lets out a scream of anguish that reverberates throughout the entire film, tinging even its beauty and its moments of playful camp with an ominous overtone. There is hopeless cynicism in a scene in which an executed Judas, hanging by the neck with his tongue protruding, is used to sell credit cards while Judas’s body swings in the background.

And yet, despite being guided by a dream logic that’s nightmarish more often than not, the film isn’t oppressive. Jarman appears in a few roles, including that of a dreamer, asleep on a bed in a shallow sea as white-linen clad figures circle around him holding flares. The film doesn’t foreclose the dream of a more serene world. The film’s images burn, yet Jarman understands that fire can symbolize both destruction and creation. We sense a feeling of hope that we can regrow a paradise. been snuffed out

Jarman created a brave and provocative film that is improvised by the actors   It is a rich tapestry of images and striking sounds, and an eye-opening journey of moods and feelings from horror to humor. In “The Garden”, Jarman speaks clearly and persuasively of his own opinions and sensibilities and speaks out strongly on the gay injustices he sees.

“BENJAMIN”— Opposites in Love

“Benjamin”

Opposites in Love

Amos Lassen

Comedian and director Simon Amstell’s “Benjamin” follows a socially awkward filmmaker suffering from crippling anxiety due to the imminent world premiere of his second film. Now if I tell you that this is Amstell’s second film, will you see a connection?

“Benjamin” is a film with many cringe inducing moments as funny moments.   Benjamin (Colin Morgan) is in the final stages of editing his second film, a delayed follow up to a BAFTA winning success story several years before. He’s suffering from crippling anxiety and a lack of self-assurance AND  at one point, he has to be consoled by his producer, who tells him that audience reactions aren’t important since everybody who sees his film is going to die at some point anyway. (That is an interesting way of seeing things). Benjamin’s personal life isn’t doing much better either. After he meets a young French musician Noah (Phénix Brossard) he is quickly smitten. The only problem is that they meet just as he’s in the final stages of his making an autobiographical film about his own inability to love.

The character of Benjamin is a thinly veiled stand-in for Amstell. But although he isn’t one to shy away from self-reflection in his work, creating a thinly disguised character lets him be even more critical than usual. It’s (Think Woody Allen where every leading male role in his later films are in some way designed as a way to channel his own neuroses, while putting their own spin on his distinctive comedic personality). The film is a showcase for Colin Morgan. He does a fine job making Benjamin’s behavior believable in this low key delightful film.

Benjamin is a trapped by his drollery but he isn’t alone. His best friend Stephen (Joel Fry) is a new comedian whose joking-not-joking shtick is getting wearying even for him. The two are young creatives trapped by their obsessive over-thinking and irony and the angst ultimately is played out as an inability to fully commit to a relationship. Benjamin finds it almost impossible to escape its own self-awareness so he uses irony while still striving for sentiment.

The guys are complete opposites who authentically gel as a couple in this very entertaining story.  Although Benjamin is painfully self-conscious and sometimes clueless,  Noah at least is a sweet self-possessed man who has enough confidence for the two of them. Even though the two fall very genuinely for each other, when one of the partners is so full of self-doubt it obviously makes the path to happiness very tricky and annoying before it has any hope of succeeding.

 Exactly how much of Amstell is in Benjamin is hard to tell and it is impossible not to be in Benjamin’s corner willing him to succeed even if he may not.

“AN ALMOST ORDINARY SUMMER”— BUT…

“An Almost Ordinary Summer”

But…

Amos Lassen

“An Almost Ordinary Summer” is an Italian rom-com—  the story of two polar opposite families who come together for a summer vacation because the two patriarchs have a secret they want to share.

Set at a stunning seaside mansion; the home of the rather grand art dealer Toni (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) who has invited his pot-smoking hippy sister, and his two daughters Olivia a famous actress and Penny. a deeply unhappy kindergarten principal.  Tony has lent the mansion’s guest house to Sandro (Filippo Scicchitano) and his pregnant wife Carolina, and Sandro’s  father Carlo (Alessandro Gassmann) who hasn’t been the same since his wife died.  They run a small family fish store on the outskirts of Rome.

Toni has some bombshell news which he shares with his family at dinner. He tells them he is getting married again.  He is marrying Carlo, who is having a difficult time telling his own family the news.  Mostly everyone is shocked but delighted with the news except for Penny and Sandro who vow together that they will do their best to stop the wedding from ever happening.

Penny is still dealing with abandonment issues from when she was a child when Toni was very much an absent father and out having a good time and Sandro is a hot bloodied and very excitable macho Italian man who cannot control his homophobia.  Their actions result in some very funny comic scenes. Here is a film in which you are always sure that whatever happens, love will win in the end.

It is also a gentle dig at Italy where same-sex marriage is still illegal, but the issue here is not of the political consequences but how these grandfathers can reconcile themselves, and their families to the reality of their relationship. Even though the film deals with a hot topic it never gets heavy and uses no clichés.

“DON’T LOOK AT ME THAT WAY”— Adulthood, Passion and Gender Identity

“DON’T LOOK AT ME THAT WAY”

Adulthood, Passion and Gender Identity

Amos Lassen

 Mongolian-born Documentary Director Uisenma Borchu’s feature film debut is a fascinating look at growing up,  gender and finding passion. Hedi (director Borchu, in her first role) and single mother, Iva, (Catrina Stemmer) live in the same building. After Hedi meets Sophia, Iva’s daughter, the two women become acquainted and eventually begin an intimate affair. Even though their relationship is passionate, Hedi is also attracted to men, and Iva who is desperately in love with her becomes deeply jealous. Iva’s father (Josef Bierbichler) makes plans to look after his granddaughter so the two women can spend time together, but when he doesn’t arrive, Hedi goes searching and the story takes a surprising twist.

The film is a compelling examination of female roles, the power of sexuality, gender identity and alienation between cultures.  Director Borchu uses  naturalistic style combined with an the surreal to examine love and life. When Sofia befriends Hedi we see her slowly beginning to infiltrate the lives of mother and daughter and she and Iva become lovers. When Iva’s visiting father (Josef Bierbichler) fails to turn up for a planned dinner, Hedi goes in search of him, and what happens threatens to tear them all apart.

This main story is framed by scenes in which Hedi takes Sofia to Mongolia to visit Hedi’s grandmother and this foreshadows some sort of commitment with Iva which is not revealed until the end. These scenes frame Hedi as the other, the exotic, the outsider who nonetheless apparently takes on certain responsibilities. She is shown as a somewhat stereotypical young woman, interested in smoking, sex, drinking, and in bringing whomever she happens to fancy into this semi-hedonist lifestyle. The affair between the two women is not treated as strange or a ‘coming out’ for either of them. The camera is mainly focused on Hedi giving us an untypical perspective. Once things grow between Hedi and Iva, things begin to fall apart. When Hedi pays more attention to Iva’s father than to Iva her behavior becomes strange and often downright cruel and the reason is unclear. We do not necessarily feel sympathy with Hedi but we must think about it even if we don’t condone the actions.. As a love drama, the film has interesting characters and a story that is known but told is an odd way.

The film has the look and feel of an inspirational indie project and it is very creative, very innovative and brave and daring. It s nudity and sex scenes, yet is not provocative or sensational, but rather a reflection of the free-spirited Hedi, who is on the one hand very selfish and wants to own anything and everybody, but on the other hand breaks almost all of society’s taboos, but not in shocking ways. The freewheeling sense of improvisation and its refusal to conform to traditional –narrative trends make it a fascinating film.

“TEHRAN: CITY OF LOVE”— Three Lonely Characters

“Tehran : City of Love”

Three Lonely Characters

Amos Lassen

Ali Jaberansari’s “Tehran: City of Love” is about three  disenchanted and gloomy people with low  aspirations are low. Hessam Fezli (Amir Hessam Bakhtiari) is a lonely champion body builder who has won three championships. He works in a gym as a physical trainer for ordinary guys and old men. He gets hired for a film with shoot is some time in the future. 

A handsome young bodybuilder, Arshia (Amir Reza Alizadeh), who is disenchanted with his previous trainer, comes to Hessam to tentatively train him for a competition. This is a dream come true for Hessam, who isn’t interested in women. We know that because he gives the brush off to Mina Shams (Forough Ghajabagli), the overweight receptionist at a beauty studio where he goes to get botoxed. When the body builder seems contented with Hessam, Hessam resigns from the film, breaking his contract, to devote himself wholeheartedly to the young man. 

Mina (who is obsessed with ice cream) makes suggestive calls to men on a secret cell phone for only that purpose. She sets up dates using fake pictures in this game of hopelessness that she plays. She attends a life class proposed to her by Niloufar (Behnaz Jafari). Reza who is already a student in the class takes an interest in Mina, inviting her out, not caring that she’s overweight.
On one of their dates, Reza tells Mina that he is married with a young kid. He’s getting divorced, but it is taking a long time. So he’s not really as available as he had let her assume for a while.

Meanwhile, Hessam seems to always be down even  when he’s standing behind his handsome young body builder, guiding his arms in a hard workout. He never cracks a smile. Mina does smile and looks pretty when she’s with Reza, and Vahid gets lively when he’s performing at the parties. Maybe the young aspiring champion body builder feels uneasy with Hessam’s attentions, especially after he’s invited to Hessam’s father’s house. The young body builder tells Hessam a lie to get out of their relationship, claiming that his travel schedule for work just doesn’t allow him time to train and he must give up the idea of the competition (which isn’t true).

The third gloomy person is Vahid (Mehdi Saki) who works  as a singer at religious funerals in a mosque. He’s estranged from  his fiancée which doesn’t seem to upset him beyond having to break the news to his religious parents. His best friend decides the way out of his depression is to start singing happy songs and gets him booked as wedding singer instead.

 

So Hessam, Mina, and Vahid wind up more or less back where they started. Director Jaberansari finds his perfect final image in Mina with the giant teddy bear that Reza sent her to say he was sorry, Vahid, and Hessam, all sit far apart, alone together, on an empty bus riding home.  

The hopelessness and loneliness of some urban lives is painful to watch but it seems to reflect modern Iranian urban culture, with its severe restrictions on fun.

“STRAIGHT UP”— Intellectual Soul Mates

“STRAIGHT UP”

Intellectual Soul Mates

Amos Lassen

Jams Sweeney’s “Straight Up” is about Todd (who might be gay) ad Rory (who would not let Todd’s sexuality influence their friendship in this romantic-comedy drama with a twist; this is a love story without the thrill of copulation.

Todd (Brendan Scannell) loves the movie “Legally Blonde” and holds very strong opinions about decorative pillows. We meet him while he is experiencing a sexual identity crisis. He has still not met his soulmate while dating men and is afraid he’ll spend his life alone, so he enters the heterosexual dating pool where he meets Rory (Katie Findlay) an aspiring actress who hates cats. Rory has a sharp wit and a great vocabulary. Together they are an intellectual match but can a (probably) gay man and a straight woman be a truly happy couple?

Reminiscent of a Nora Ephron romantic comedy, “Straight Up” is fun to watch as it shake up the genre’s tropes and staples. “Sweeney mines the depths of our collective anxieties around loneliness, relationships, and love for the perfect modern thinking person’s date night movie.”

 

“I’M FINE”: Season 3 July 25th Premiere on Dekkoo


“I’M FINE”: Season 3

July 25th Premiere on Dekkoo

 The final season of I’M FINE follows Nate and his band of friends as they continue to splinter off into their own journeys as other friendships develop. This season tackles themes of identity, monogamy, shame and the gay generational divide. Jeff progresses in his relationship with Zachary, revealing aspects of a past he was hardly prepared to grapple with himself. Nicole entertains an unexplored interest in women through an alluring new coworker, while Andy and Brian rekindle things with the possibility of a third. Mick continues to unabashedly be himself, figuring out his place in L.A. quicker than most. And lastly, after searching for himself and landing in a place of comfort, Nate gets an unexpected newcomer into his life, an older gentleman who challenges everything he thought he knew about himself and relationships.  Could this force him to make a big decision about his future in a city he finally learned to call home?

CREATOR COMMENTS – BRANDON KIRBY:

MOVING ON FROM ME: I’M FINE SEASON 3 

Working on I’M FINE has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and it’s all thanks to my creative IM FINE family I’ve been able to cultivate over these past three years.

This series began over a break up, as the cliche now says, all gay web series are about a breakup. And back in 2016, IM FINE was no exception. I used my heartbreak as a creative outlet to create Nate, a fictionalized version of myself brought to life by Perry Powell, who imbued the character with so much unexpected depth that I soon realized this character and this story would go quickly go beyond any real life touch points.

Season one was a project squeezed in on weekends, shooting an episode a day over saturdays and Sundays in the summer of 2016. We were able to move fast thanks to the brilliance of my DP Andrew Ceperley and the exceptional skill and recourses my entire cast & crew brought everyday.

After we threw up the first few episodes on Vimeo, lgbt streaming service Dekkoo soon thereafter took notice and expressed interest in producing further episodes. I was in no position to say no, so I gladly accepted their offer and never looked back.

Now in 2019, we have wrapped post production on season 3 and can look back on years of hard work. The show’s cast and crew, lovingly dubbed the I’m Fine family, grew into a tight knit group of creative collaborators who took on extra responsibilities in the third season.

The first two seasons were largely about Nate, while introducing a colorful and vibrant cast of supporting characters. We expanded on their stories in season 2 while still maintaining Nate as the central focal point of these characters’ lives. And so, for season 3 I decided it was time to move even further past this show’s origin.

Nate became a supporting character in his own story, and the stories of the supporting cast became centerpieces. Their stories were completely independent and didn’t rely on Nate for their importance. As it works in real life with friendships, sometimes as we get older, groups spread apart while still acknowledging each other in their lives. And I wanted to reflect this pattern of friendships coming-of-age in season 3.

And with this also came the most important aspect of all, which was expanding the stories beyond just myself and my perspective. Season 1 and 2 are populated with fictional characters drawn from inspiration of people in my real life. And so with season 3, I opened it up to my collaborators to tell stories. My insanely talented producers wrote and co-wrote scripts, my DP and several actors directed episodes, while I helmed the ship and admired the stories they were bringing to the table.

For this series, it was time for me to take a step back and fully embrace the I’m Fine family, and what we ended up coming up with for season 3, I can’t wait for everyone to see it.    

“I’M FINE is definitely one of our most popular episodic series. The decision to end the series now was a story-telling decision. We let Brandon Kirby tell the story he wanted to tell. He always felt 3-seasons was the proper length for the story.  We couldn’t be more proud of the success the series has had and we’re honored to have it part of the Dekkoo library.”  – Brian Sokel / Dekkoo President

BIOGRAPHIES:

BRANDON KIRBY – CREATOR

Brandon Kirby is the creator, writer and director of the Dekkoo original series I’M FINE, the third and final season of which releases this year. He also served as producer on the Dekkoo short film FACES and the Revry short film HE DRINKS, with more projects currently in production. Having graduated from Michigan State University, he began his career in L.A. seven years ago and is currently gaining his Master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University. In his spare time, he serves as co-host on the film podcast MOVIES IMO and is involved with fundraising efforts through AIDS/LifeCycle and Outfest.

 

FRANKIE A. RODRIGUEZ

Frankie A. Rodriguez has worked in television and film for the last four years and can be seen in the guest-starring role of Eduardo on ABC’s “Modern Family” and Dekkoo’s Original series “I’m Fine”.  Now cast as series regular on the Disney+’s “High School Musical: The Musical,” Rodriguez plays Carlos — captain of the color guard and the student choreographer for the show. Originally from central California, when he was five years old, Frankie dreamed of becoming a background dancer for Jennifer Lopez. That same dream still stands today.

 

LEE DOUD 

After graduating from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television with a degree in acting, Lee Doud began pursuing his professional endeavors in Hollywood. Along with Dekkoo Original “I’m Fine”, Lee’s TV credits include Showtime’s “Californication”, “House of Lies”, “Last Man Standing”, and upcoming thriller “Dark/Web”. On the film side, he can also be seen in SXSW hit “KTown Cowboys”. As a producer, Doud worked on short film “Another Stupid Day”, followed by feature film “The Amateur” with the same team. “The Amateur” can currently be streamed on Amazon Prime. Lee is inspired by storytelling that can help make a difference in the world by representing different points of views or ways of life. 

 

ULYSSES MORAZAN 

ULYSSES MORAZAN plays Brain in Dekkoo’s Original series I’m Fine. He can also be seen playing Abel in Somebody Else, an official selection at the 2019 Outfest Fusion’s Festival and last year got play alongside Angela Kinsey in Sherry a 2018 California’s Women Film Festival Selection for best comedy short. Other credits includes BuzzFeed’s “You Do Two” and “Lesbian Princess.”  He currently studies at The Groundlings Theater and School and loves it!  

 

PERRY POWELL

Perry Powell is a performer and art director based in Los Angeles. He has starred in dozens of plays and short films and created designs for clients including HBO, NBC, Comic Con, The LA Philharmonic Orchestra, Invertigo Dance Theatre, The Party By Ostbahnhof, Lightning in a Bottle, & Alaska Thunderf*ck. I’m Fine is his first experience leading a web series. 

 

WILL BRANSKE 

“Will Branske is an actor and photographer living in Los Angeles, CA.  He has appeared in a number of short films, commercials, and web series’ since moving to LA and is continuing to put out content involving/documenting the queer community of today.  He is so happy to have been involved with “I’m Fine” and to have directed an episode of Season 3.  You can see him as one of the lead characters in an upcoming web series titled ‘The Spins’ and his photography work on his instagram @willbranske.” 

  

JENNIFER DEFILIPPO 

Jennifer DeFilippo is an actress and filmmaker living in Los Angeles. She has appeared in numerous television shows and films, as well as many national commercial campaigns. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Loyola Marymount University, she furthered her training in improv comedy at prestigious schools such as The Groundlings, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Second City. Jennifer has performed on television shows such as Modern FamilyMasters of Sex, ParenthoodShamelessNew Girl, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. She’s recurred in the Dannon Oikos Yogurt campaign opposite John Stamos and “fell from heaven” in the well-received AT&T Commercial opposite Karan Soni. Jennifer has also had the pleasure of working with directors such as William H. Macy, John Putch, and Larry Charles.

“PIXELIA”— Realization and Acceptance

 


“PIXELIA”

Realization and Acceptance

Amos Lassen

Kumar is a 30-year-old bachelor who leaves his corporate job in Kochi to follow his dream of being an artist. He begins a new life as an Uber driver while working on an original graphic novel, ‘Pixelia’. One day a passenger, a transgender woman, Mandakini, gets into his cab and changes Kumar’s life forever. Kumar and Mandakini spend the whole day together and as they do, they opening each other’s minds. Mandakini shares her past life and desire to adopt a child, while Kumar tells her the story of his graphic novel. They develop a special bond and Kumar realizes his own queer identity. Their story is told to us with a stylized blend of documentary and magical realism and we understand that it is about the fragmentation of daily life and the longing to connect.

It really comes across like a documentary in that it feels so real but that could also be because we want the story to be real. We gain pleasure from beautiful stories and often want to include them in our own lives.

Ratheesh Ravindam beautifully directed this heartwarming story that resonates since we have all looked for connection and connection brings acceptance. We also see that there is such a thing as love at first site. Kumar and Mandakini in the course of just one day share their dreams, hopes and aspirations.

Kumar, a corporate employee turned graphic novelist meets a transgender named Mandakini and they share their hopes, views and dreams. As they enter into a relationship they find hardships to fulfill their desire to adopt a baby so we also see the hard realities of life.

“NIGHT OUT”— Saturday Night in Berlin

 “Night Out”

Saturday Night in Berlin

Amos Lassen

Greek director, Stratos Tzitzis’ “Night Out” takes us to Berlin on a Saturday night where we meet a mix of hetero and gay singles, couples and polyamorous pairs all looking for  fun and satisfaction. They explore both the city and their relationships for different reasons. They become part of the heart of a frenetic night where anything goes. Berlin’s infamous nightlife has always inspire filmmakers from all over the world yet this is a new attempt to capture the one thing that seems to be the city’s main trademark.

This film is centered on the more lustful aspects of the nightlife. The characters wanders off into the night from house parties, etc.  and enter sex shops visits and go to street parades, to dance sessions by the river and to underground punk concerts. As the day comes to a close,  they end up at the KitKat Club and are wearing much less clothing than when they set out.

On Saturday nights in Berlin, the city comes to life. Art gallery owner Felix (Thomas Kellner) shows his star artist Michael (Martin Moeller) and his enterprising wife Sarah (Alexandra Zoe) the hottest clubs, while Lena (Sulaika Lindemann) and her lover Ingrid meet the Syrian Amir, whose initial shyness irritates her to ever new erotic games. Martha (Mara Scherzinger) and Sebastian (Jenz Weber) try to find an investor in the nightlife and the young Layla (Katerina Clark) searches in the clubs for the father of her unborn child. During a night of dancing in the sex club KIT KAT, their paths cross and unravel as they take part in a party which none of them will ever forget ..

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With a few nice scenes on gender diversity and, of course, the nightlife that seems so important to Berlin, I was reminded of the decadence of Berlin before the second World War. We see liberation with those who went to the clubs but we also see the morbidity of a city that is overburdened. We sense that once the fun is coming to end , it degenerates into debauchery and tastelessness. A problem I had was not getting to know the characters. We do not get their background stories so all we know is what we see in the 88 minute length  of “Night Out”, the individual characters are not brought into a multi-layered causal connection with the celebrations, which are beyond the search for fun and sexual innovation. They seem completely detached from it, as if it were an essential coincidence that in the end all characters end up in KitKat.

The locations and nor t the characters are in the  foreground are not the characters. We see Berlin through her clubs and this can be a bitmonotonous . The image of Berlin and the party scene is that  everyone is welcome, everyone can have fun and everyone can find something. The film revolves around itself as a city with big nightlife.  We do not develop understanding, attraction or dislike for the film. We experience the film but I doubt that this will stay with us.