Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Fashion Victims |
Actors: Edgar Selge, Florian Bartholomai, Roman Kni ka, Franziska Walser, Traute Hoess
Director: Ingo Rasper
Genres: Comedy, Drama
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".....And your Papa is WHO?!?!!!"
JUST A REVIEWER2 | 02/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
(Alternate title for this review: "Thank god for espresso machines that make you take your clothes off.")---(Wait; how about one more alternate: "And when you pick up a guy, how do YOU get the conversation started? Why, ask him his astrological sign, of course. Works every time---don't believe me; just check with Steven and Karsten!).
((Here is my approach to obtaining/viewing/reviewing Gay tales in film form. Simply, it's seeking the holy grail of that genre, or looking for the "Addictive Film"---that movie one returns to time and again). Selection/purchase is based mainly on finding new releases by favorite directors/screenwriters and/or your comments/reviews at major online film sales or review sites. Sometimes I feel correctly steered by you (the "Keepers" filling my DVD shelves), other times mislead, occasionally badly (the "Throwaways"----and I do toss 'em). Rarely, I come across the "Addictive," those watchable every couple of months or so (see below starred *** area for a list......and some "near-addictive" as well). For some movies, I'll share a review with you, as follows. Thanks for sticking with me so far.))
Not to be outdone in the year, 2007, of some quite good gay films (the Yank's "Shelter" and the Brit's "Oh Happy Day [dvd]"), now comes along Germany's funnily enjoyable "Fashion Victims." Featuring the Germanic version of Trevor Wright (a wonderfully ingratiating Florian Bartholomai as the late-teens to 20 year old, virginal Karsten), and a Teutonic Brad Rowe (a fun loving, but caring, Roman Knizka as the gay-experienced, 30-something Steven), here's a marvelous little movie I truly believe you're gonna love. Why? Because I so think you're going to like this guy, Steven, with his light-hearted and devilish approach to life.......and to getting our oh-so-innocent Karsten into bed for his very first time. And I just know you're going to fall in love with relative newcomer Bartholomai in the role of the doesn't-know-what-to-do, young innocent in need of a "guiding hand" (no, no.....not a hand for "that" purpose; well, maybe there WILL come a time for that). Karsten is played as just about the most lovable gay youth you're going to come across---he's so sweetly shy it almost pours off the screen. (I'll bet you thought "Shelter's" Zach was that person; I do have to admit: it's a hard call). And as for the fun-to-be-with Steven, let's just say that he's more than eager to give our little Karsten the guidance he's in need of. And if you closely watch, you will see that "K's" presence always seems to put a grin on the devilish Steven's face. Gotta say that "S" does have great eyes---just watch them closely anytime he's with Karsten......they practically devour the kid throughout the film.
If there's any bad news for those of you looking ONLY for gay romance, it's that you'll have to wade through a lot of "family stuff" first. In this regard, Karsten's parents can't be left out of consideration here; actually much of this movie involves them. In fact, it's not really a "gay film," per se; it's more of a "family affair kind of thing".......with Papa being front and center for most of the film, and Mama having her little bits from time to time. Papa Wolfgang pretty much comes across as a know-it-all S.O.B., which throughout the film poses a big question for us: Is he going to wind up being redeemable in our eyes (and Karsten's......and Mama's)? As for Mama Erika (who knows more than a certain someone thinks she does), she turns out to be her sweet boy's loving and supportive fallback person.......and, most wonderfully, she takes no crap from anyone. What we really have with these two older characters, then, are parents playing at their own little war.
Speaking of "war," perhaps this is the best point to mention that "Fashion Wars" might have been a far better title for this film, inasmuch as it certainly does have its share of skirmishes (well, admittedly, its share of "victims," too). Of course, who knows how "twisted" words become when translating German to English for subtitling purposes (in that regard, I can say there were certainly some noticeable "rough spots" in this film).
Just a few wrap-up thoughts for you here:
- Not to be forgotten, there's that brilliantly done home bedroom segment in which Karsten receives both an unexpected visitor and his first kiss. It's one of "those" scenes in which the viewer finds him/herself almost physically holding their breath in anticipation (and Steven really, really does outdo himself here).
- When the film's long-a-coming "showdown" finally does arrive, it's pretty much a doozie. Yes, indeed, you are going to love this film's final "action" scene (NO, not "that" kind of action---keep a clean mind why dont'cha). All I'll say is that it involves a vehicle......and a shotgun......and some sidesplitting moments.
- The film-end denouement between father and son is near pitchperfect. It is a memorably happy moment, even topping Mama's wonderful final scene with "K" ("I know---I understand---I accept"). What more could any gay boy ask for?
- And, other than the preceding, all I have to say is: I am so mad at you, Mr. Director! Why? Well, it seems to me that a little see-you-later kiss through a vehicle window, at film's end, would certainly have been a great way to wind up the guys' final scene (must I do all the thinking for you guys?). Nevertheless, thanks for an otherwise wonderful little ending scene between the two; your gay audiences always appreciate being left with a feeling of hope.
PS--Oh yes, oh yes........you're gonna have fun with this one.
***Other films which are habit formers: "Just a Question of Love" / "Brokeback Mountain" / "Boy Culture" / "All Over the Guy" / "Second Skin (Unrated Version) / "[[ASIN:B0000CBL9I The Man I Love" / "The Man of My Life" (maybe for older, gay viewers).
Father and Son
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 01/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Fashion Victims" ("Reine Gesechmackasche")
Father and Son
We all have seen a character on the screen that is totally dislikeable that we grow to hate him as the film progresses. Even though there is such a character in "Fashion Victims", the movie manages to overcome it and in fact, even redeems him a bit. Here is a movie with heart, depth and farce.
Wolfgang Zenker (Edgar Selge) is a character. He is lackluster, humorless, self-absorbed, picky and nasty. He ignores his wife Erika (Franziska Walser) and their teenaged son, Karsten (Florian Bartholomai). He is a salesman who sells women's fashions but when he is caught driving with a suspended license, his work could suffer if he cannot make it to his buyers. He, therefore, cancels his son's planned study trip abroad that Karsten has saved up for and he demands that his son become his chauffeur so that he can make his appointments at women's clothing stores. Wolfgang sells for "the bigger woman" who is more "mature" but he soon finds that his sales are being edged out by a cheaper and flashier line which is promoted by a clever and brash new young salesman, Steven (Roman Knizka).
Purely by coincidence, Karsten and Steven meet and romance ensues. Karsten is unaware that Steven is both the competition and enemy of his father. Back home things are also going too good for Wolfgang. His wife is thinking of divorce and this is before she discovers that he has been keeping a secret from her--he is involved in a financial crisis that will impact his family.
Wolfgang is one of the most despicable characters even seen in movies. He takes his son's college fund without anyone knowing, he mocks his wife, insults his customer's appearances. At time the humor is almost too cruel to be funny. What offsets this is the magic in the relationship between Steven and Karsten which is delightfully sweet even though Steven is a bit guilty of "robbing the cradle". Farce ensues with door slamming and slapstick and when we reach the climax we see that the family which seemed to be totally lost forms reconciliation in quite a poignant scene.
The movie is a surprise hit. I first saw it a little over a year ago when I was screening films for the Arkansas GLBT film festival and loved it. There is a wonderful combination of drama and comedy and the climax can only be described as hilarious. Not only does "Fashion Victims" deal with Karsten's sexuality and his own acceptance of it, it also explores the dysfunction of the modern family. Karsten's relationship with his parents is the heart of the movie. While he does, to a certain extent get along with his mother, he and his father share a strained relationship. Karsten has trouble with his father's homophobic views and this is what makes him go behind his father's back and begin an affair with his rival.
The acting is excellent throughout but it is Roman Knizka and Florian Bartholomai as Steve and Karsten that are the focus of our attention; they complement each other wonderfully. Edgar Selge as Wolfgang is both tragic and funny.
"Fashion Victims" is not mainstream cinema but it is a film that totally entertains. It is one of the best German films I have seen in years and is a real treat that should not be missed.
A German Take on the French Farce
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"FASHION VICTIMS (Reine Geschmacksache) is an entertaining little film that seems to have its roots in the French farce genre: characters running topsy turvy into situations that include hidden identities, well paced plans that go awry for odd reasons, and in general a healthy look at human foibles. Writers Tom Streuber and Ingo Rasper (who also directs) have dished up this confection with just the right amount of social comment, interpersonal relationship challenges, business antics, and family disasters to keep the comedy moving. And fortunately they have a fine cast of excellent actors to assure its success.
Grumpy egocentric Wolfgang Zenker (Edgar Selge) is first a clothing line salesman in the fashion industry and second an abusive husband to Erika (Franziska Walser) and his closeted son Karsten (Florian Bartholomäi), a young lad who yearns to go off to university to study Spanish but is shamed into being a driver for his father when the police reveal that Wolfgang has a suspended license. One of Wolfgang's business competitors Steven Brookmüller (Roman Knizka), a handsome young man with an eye for Karsten, parts company with Wolfgang - a fact that begins a chase of boutique visits and competition that alienates Wolfgang even further from his son and wife. When Wolfgang's true financial picture is as bleak as possible, both Erika (encouraged by her single girlfriend Brigitta (Traute Höss) and Karsten elect to indulge in their own futures, and in a series of hilarious accidents the lives of all the characters collide and change.
Fast paced, well photographed, and warmly acted, FASHION VICTIMS is a fun film that though it is listed as a gay movie, there is little in the story other than some momentary suggestions to deserve that label. This is a fun farce that should find a wide audience seeking a little escape from reality! Grady Harp, March 09"