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Customer Review

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, fascinating, and why we watch foreign movies, March 12, 2003
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This review is from: Taxi Zum Klo (DVD)
Frank Ripploh's largely autobiographical film takes two fairly schematic themes -- boy meets boy and all that that entails; and man deals with utter dislocation between job and private life -- and turns them into a fascinating look at a modern Germany that just as easily could be Taipei (think Ang Lee) or Rome (think Vittorio de Sica).
Frank is an elementary school teacher by day, and a sexual adventurer any time he is NOT at school. On one of his forays into the demimonde, he meets Bernd (played by the very appealing Bernd Broaderup) and falls in love. What follows is fairly typical of any love story, but it is in the details that Ripploh takes his audience into another world. Frank's love story is punctuated by sexual escapades that would have horrified Jane Austen. Added to this, Frank must come to terms with the increasing tension between his respectable job and his not so respectable but very exciting sex life. How Frank resolves this tension is simultaneously amusing and horrifying.
This film is not for prudes or the squeamish. The sex scenes are graphic and sometimes hard to watch. Also, it is obvious that the film was cheaply made, with gritty camera work and spotty sound quality. Still, the details draw the viewer in; you actually see how these people live (and where else do you see an old Karmann Ghia these days?). It is also eerie to see such lack of sexual restraint in a world on the brink of the HIV horror (Taxi zum Klo was released in 1981).
I was fascinated with this film in 1981 and I remain so in 2003. The only reason I gave this movie 3 stars instead of 4 is that the subtitles have an annoying tendency to disappear into the scenery. A passing familiarity with German would help fill in some of the gaps in legibility, but you will probably need several viewings to get all the plot points.
One comes away from this movie with feelings that only foreign films can provide. While Ripploh is no Kurosawa, de Sica, or Inagaki, he equals them in taking you to another world.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 31, 2014 5:38:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 31, 2014 5:41:10 PM PDT
Le Stryge says:
I found this one quite interesting too David.
Simply cannot bare all those cheesy American contributions to the already over subscribed genre of "Crap Gay Cinema".
You may enjoy an interesting contrast between the two following films that curiously share a quite similar storyline, ....but one is a very dark interpretation while the other takes a more "up" view.
Both are French movies.
The dark one is "Our Paradise", while the far more charming one has the unlikely title of "Bad Boy Street".
As I said above, somewhat similar premises, but FAR different treatments.
While you're at it, do grab a copy of "The Loft", ....while it's not a gay movie, it's one I found fascinating as a foreign film.
(I review it at length elsewhere, as I do both the French films.)

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2014 10:04:44 PM PDT
I think I know what you mean by "Crap Gay Cinema" and no, I am not interested in that aspect of the genre. What I DO like are foreign films that have a little or a lot of the subject. I am not being 'arty' or snooty -- I just like them. Maybe because it creates an exotic world. I don't know. I had heard of TAXI ZUM KLO in 1981 and as I spoke German a lot better back then, I went to see it and was mesmerized for all the reasons listed in my review. Apropos of that I can recommend BURNT MONEY (PLATA QUEMADA) which takes place in Argentina and involves two men who ostensibly are lovers but their love story is surprisingly tangential to the plot. It is in Spanish. I can also recommend ADVENTURES OF FELIX (in French) which is basically a road story. It has sex and is definitely more 'gay' but it is a beautifully told story with, for me, a wonderful and unexpected ending. Two other movies in German are COMING OUT and DAS TRIO. The former is fascinating as it takes place in what then was communist East Germany, and the latter is a caper film.

I will, of course, check out the two French films you named. Ditto for the third. Thanks for your taking time to comment.

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