Director: Michael Keusch
Writers: Michael Keusch and Deborah Tilton from an idea by Nicholas Hoppe and Bevin Chu
From: Cult Cinema
A couple hopes to open a night club, but six months later find both their business and marriage in dire straits.
I’m curious if I can make this the shortest summary of any movie on the Misery Mill.
Nick and Beth want to open a night club. Six months later, the club still isn’t open because of asbestos and old chemical waste on the lot. Nick whines about needing to repay Eddie the mobster’s $200,000, but spends most of his time imagining having sex with Liza, a fantasy version of his wife. In the end, Beth leaves to do a photo shoot in Europe and sends Nick a video congratulating him on finally opening a club but says that she’s not coming back. Cut to Nick opening the club and it filling with people. THE END.
80 minutes of whining and sexophone-backed nudity. I have nothing to say about this movie because literally nothing happens. I even have the impulse to go through each little bit of scene just to have something to talk about, but that would give the impression that something is happening. Eddie appears at the beginning and end to threaten Nick over the $200,000 Eddie invested in the club and Nick periodically hooks up with Liza, his mistress who’s actually his wife but actually a fantasy and maybe some other problem… I don’t know. All I know is when Eddie shows up at the end to rough up Nick, Liza shows up and screws Eddie in front of Nick which then suggests that even Eddie was imagined. So the one element of plot the movie had didn’t exist either. Great.
The movie is constantly going into fantasy and dream sequences and never communicating a concrete timeline. Nick promises Eddie word on the money in 24 hours. Then Eddie arrives at the end of the movie so the entire thing has been 24 hours. Only it turns out Eddie was imagined, I think, so who knows how long any of it has been?
Two things are going on. First, narratively, Night Club is the movie version of this guy’s story. Nick is an aspiring novelist who, so far as the movie tells us, has no experience running a club. The entirety of the movie is him whining: whining about people not loaning him money to get him out of this bad situation, whining about the people who leased him the place screwing him over, whining about his wife not having sex with him at precisely the moment he wants. 80 goddamn minutes. Imagine Tommy Wiseau’s most self-pitying moments from The Room, but lose the accent and affect and you’ll have Nick’s voice. How could we possibly care about his fate, let alone his club or novel?
Oh, did I not mention he’s an aspiring novelist? Oh yeah, he’s an aspiring novelist which adds an additional layer to the movie since he’s periodically working on his book. Is it unclear if we’re seeing dramatizations of his novel or the actual events of his life? Does he look at a manuscript sitting on a table with only a cover page that is later revealed to be blank pages? Does he fling said manuscript out a window in a moment of rage-y release? You better believe it! Which leads to the second thing:
The movie’s trying to be arty. God save us from aspiring creatives (like me) who think they can make something. The movie is constantly toying with levels of fantasy and delusion and dream and I suppose our confusion as members of the audience is supposed to reflect the mental breakdown Nick’s going through, but it doesn’t work. Something I left out of my write-up of Killpoint was that parts of the movie reminded me of David Lynch and the same is true of this movie.
I know. Let me justify that statement.
Killpoint has a lot of disjointed scenes of Leo Fong walking around with only strange white noise in the background. Night Club has characters playing with videocameras and tapes, watching footage of themselves that don’t make complete sense even to them. Lynch used these elements in Lost Highway as well as other films, but he’s doing it intentionally to unnerve the audience and create a setting where conventional narrative and physical rules don’t apply. The white noise is present in Killpoint because they forgot to put actual bed music in and Night Club is playing with levels of reality but to no larger purpose. Lynch uses those elements as the bedrock of his films. You’re supposed to feel discomfited by them. Here, they’re an afterthought if not an accident.
I wanted to start drinking halfway through this movie and the only thing that stopped me was that I’d donated platelets earlier in the day. Don’t watch this movie. While it’s not hallucinogenically dull like The Creeping Terror, that’s not to the movie’s credit. To put it another way, it fails even at failure. A dull, dull film that imagines you’ll endure its endless white boy whining for the thoroughly un-tittilating repetition of nudity. It’s not offensive, merely interminable. Stay away.