SEAT AT THE BACK - SCRIBBLES! ~ It's that time of year again: THE RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL in London! On now.. See you there!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

BEDWAYS (2010) ~a film for those who like Berlin & like to watch. And film us watching you liking us watching you watch.

*Some spoilers under the covers - watch before reading*

BEDWAYS - like ROMANCE, SHORTBUS (a gloriously rude, camp, very funny, big warm glow of a movie that has to be seen to be believed) 9 SONGS and the exceptionally dark and sinister BAISE-MOI before it - explores sexuality to British censor-troubling extremes.
Although, of course, British film censors (or as they prefer to be known these days - 'classifiers') are fine with sex, so long as it's artistically and morally justified. I'm not sure why Michael Winterbottom's 9 SONGS is artistically or morally anything beyond some raw, sweatily-realised London gig footage of bands you may love mixed in with some fairly hot and unfaked action between the two leads, post-gig - which is probably the main reason that I (and virtually everyone else) paid for a ticket.
Artistic merit; cool gig footage - nah! Although, to be fair; the live gig footage in 9 SONGS (2004) is very good and blended with shots of our two lovers in the crowd captures the claustrophobic experience of a sold-out gig throng perfectly. It's also of particular interest if you have ever visited the London venues shown - such as the delirious Brixton Academy - yourself.  

Explicit sex filmed with the purpose of arousing in some way, is usually censored  - even with an 18 certificate in the UK. Unless it's an arty world cinema movie with subtitles or filmed by the likes of the aforementioned British enfant auteuribble; Michael Winterbottom - the darling of the British film industry (and probably best mates with most of the BBFC to boot - I jest of course!) that is.

BEDWAYS is the first full length feature film by German director (of just a few shorts) and actor (of mainly the TV series kind with the odd rude kind thrown in) - Rolf Peter Kahl (working here as R.P.Kahl). It's set in a beautifully neon-lit Berlin. It's a threesome of acting talent - aspiring female director shoots an improvised movie with a male friend and a woman who auditioned to be in this random montage of sex and arguments and bed scenes that delve swiftly into real sex rather than the pretend kind.

Cue much debate about the nature of voyeurism, and the nature of voyeurism, and a little bit more about the nature of voyeurism. Is it better to watch (is that a reality anyway) or be involved directly in the watching by doing the actual filming - or give it all up and just 'do it' with the person you are filming as part of that project, to find out?

I'm sure most film school students would agree that the latter option is the way to go with their own studies. Although the cast of BEDWAYS all look suitably bored senseless even when having sex (presumably deliberately so); the eroticism explicit but mostly downbeat and contrived - and the plot and script clinically random and removed.

Sometimes the film does veer into bizarre enough territory to jolt you back to life, most notably in a seedy, scary, middle-of-nowhere-somewhere-in-Berlin nightclub sequence where clients queue up to watch you perform in front of your partner (in another room looking at you via video link and talking away on a mobile phone) - you don't get clubs like that in Soho, err, do you? The club sequence is shot with dirty neon glee; the camera lens dirty and traumatised by its descent into a hellish world of plain corridors and locked doors below Berlin; the womb of depravity.

Apart from this unnerving club sequence, the film is otherwise most effective where scenes start off with, say, an argument between the two leads about their crumbling relationship only after some time for the camera to pull back and reveal we are in a film within a film again. Sure; I was fooled - and here the blurring of reality and the fact the film does have a point at its bitter heart, suddenly works. The shots of a cold and distant, but also warm and beautiful (like relationships - like sex?) Berlin, flooded with traffic-light haze, are striking and the film does have a truly great soundtrack; hard, beautiful and throbbing - the latter, something of a key word throughout.
Cast, especially Lana Cooper as Marie and Miriam Mayet as Nina are cold and distant, like the environment they find themselves in, but post-movie - memorably so. Like a one night stand with a hazy good memory of the week or month or year before.

The controversial poster image of a woman straddling a chair in flesh coloured, translucent panties caused ripples and the offending underwear coloured in and made decent in some countries.

I want to watch more from this promising director - call me a voyeur, but I do. There's something cool and sleek in the pervading sense of boredom among lost souls that sticks in the mind, even if a flaw could be that it's too cold; too harsh to amuse. It's also short - 75 minutes long. Although, in this case, not prematurely so. The sudden ending is a bit, well - is that it? And it's hard to talk about this movie without feeling like you are writing for a sex problem letters page. That's either part of the film's problem - or partly the point.

words: mark gordon palmer

1 comment:

  1. The director of BEDWAYS shot a new project! It's called REHEARSALS and it is a kind of a remake of his film. Some reviews are telling these: "Wilder, much more explicit and also funny!"
    But there is no regular release. Only a strong limited release of only 100 copies (numbered and signed) could be picked here: Check it out!