DVD: Taxi Zum Klo | Film reviews, news & interviews
DVD: Taxi Zum Klo
First ever DVD release for early Eighties journey through Berlin’s gay scene. Explicit and uncut
Frank is a primary school teacher in Berlin. His pupils love him as he treats them as individuals rather than little pegs for fitting into holes. What they don’t know - and what Frank doesn’t advertise - is that he is gay. Their dictation homework is marked in the cubicle of a public toilet while Frank sits waiting to see what’ll pop through a glory hole. Taxi Zum Klo is explicit – extremely so – but it’s also a deadpan, matter-of-fact depiction of a carefree lifestyle. The subject of bans, seizures and cuts in the early Eighties, this is its first release on DVD. It’s also uncut.
It’s obvious what the fuss was about: Frank attends the STD clinic and his examination is seen in full; oral sex is accompanied by ejaculation; one of Frank's random encounters takes in a golden shower. Taxi Zum Klo translates as "taxi to the toilets". And, yes, on checking out from hospital, Frank catches a cab to various public conveniences looking for a different sort of Mr to a Mr Goodbar. This is his life.
Cuts were made to allow screenings at the few (mainstream art-house) membership cinemas that would schedule Taxi Zum Klo in 1982. Nonetheless, the film gathered festival awards and a growing reputation due to its honest depiction of an unmediated way of life that’s now lost. The extras on this belated DVD release include Mark Kermode’s introduction to the film from its Film Four outing, a film festival panel interview with writer, director and star Frank Ripploh, a short German doc on the film, and a discussion of the circumstances of its initial release in the UK.
The narrative arc is straightforward. Frank holds down his job, pootles round Berlin having random encounters that lead to cinema employee Bernd moving in with him. Bernd wants an unfussy domestic life, but Frank won't commit and continues his free-spirited wanderings. The relationship is obviously doomed and after the all-night Queen’s Ball – a real event caught here – the pair split. Frank then has a meltdown where the hidden and the day-to-day collide.
So low key, and with such a linear plot, Taxi Zum Klo needs more than its non-titillating explicitness to hold the attention. Its humour and warmth are enough. Frank is feckless and Bernd is sensitively portrayed. Taxi Zum Klo is an essential document, and will always be such. But it's hard to keep patience with the self-centred, selfish Frank. He deserves a clip round the ear.
Watch the trailer for Taxi Zum Klo
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Torrents of blood in the Wyoming snow
Dead man walking: Hungarian exploration of the closed universe of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Dustin Hoffman dresses as a woman to become a better man in a lovingly crafted screwball comedy
Gentle comedy about elderly bank-robbers ends up reconfirming the very cliches it sets out to challenge
After 'Dallas Buyers Club' and 'Wild', Jean-Marc Vallée rebuilds another life, with Jake Gyllenhaal
Rousing romp from the Marvel universe is funny, sad, satirical and spectacular
Sub-texts galore in grade-A Ealing melodrama
Death-defying aerial stunts with a twist of Hawksian romance
Don Cheadle puts heart and soul into his portrayal of the man who transformed jazz
theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top movies out now
Parisian heist caper possibly hampered by bad timing
Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's narratively beguiling debut