Anotherworld: DVD Review

By whateversexual_llama

I have a confession: I should've written this review at least a month ago. Unfortunately, I haven't finished watching “Anotherworld” by Fabiomassimo Lozzi. And every time I had a long afternoon with nothing to do, I told myself to watch it. I put in the DVD, watched another five minutes. But I couldn't finish it. Perhaps acknowledging the unwatchability of the film is effective in and of itself.

The movie starts out as a fantastic idea - it's an experimental piece containing a series of short (one to three minute) monologues on the subject of homosexuality and homophobia. It's an Italian film with English subtitles and the characters cover a broad range of ages, sizes, fetishes, and stories. A skinhead talks about homosexuality, a priest talks about meeting with a male prostitute, a S&M sub talks about his first sexual experience. There are prostitutes, men in married heterosexual relationships -- just about every trick in the gay book.

However, one topic is never covered(of course, when I say “never,” I mean “not within the first hour and 45 minutes.” If there's a twist ending, I never made it there). There are no happy people. Though Fandango's summary of the film says that the piece “helps celebrate their diversity as well as portraying their commonalities” the endless series of monologues felt to me like a trudge through the lives of miserable and unlikeable people, not a celebration. The speakers are either homosexuals who hate themselves for being gay or homophobes. I began to wonder what the writer believed this could do for the gay community. I began to wonder if the writer himself was a homophobe.

This kind of message could be heartbreaking, if there was a likeable character or even a deeper theme for the audience to attach itself to. But throughout the part of the movie I could bring myself to watch, this did not appear.

Though the message and theme of “Anotherworld” were less than I hoped for, I do have to say that the acting was quite strong- quite a few of the monologues were riveting because of the believability of the actors. The filming was experimental but interesting. Therefore, I'd recommend this movie as a study in theater or film rather than as entertainment.

Perhaps the value of this movie could've gone up had the writer selected the strongest monologues to use, shortening the experience a bit. Still, I felt that the overall effect of this movie was to either fuel homophobic feelings or dehumanize the gay male community. Whatever the creators' purpose was in making this film, I found that final feeling of animosity towards gay people upsetting to watch and unacceptable to promote.

Comments

elph's picture

Thanks for the warning...

I have very low tolerance for depressing films... so, I quite willingly will give this one a pass!

Fabiomassimo Lozzi's picture

ANOTHERWORLD

Hi whateversexual_llama,
I know many people don't think it's cool for a film director to comment on forums such as this one, but I like to engage with viewers of my work, so here's a few observations.
I'm the director and writer of Anotherworld and I can assure you I'm an out and proud gay man and so is my boyfriend of 20 years - as you would have found out had you had the patience to watch the rest of the movie and not just the first half - the last monologue is in fact my very own, in the form of a love letter to the man I love and have loved for the last 20 years.
As it is also stated in the cover notes, Anotherworld is intended as a journey the progress of gay identity from self-denial to self-acceptance through the monologues of assorted characters adapted from interviews with real gay men (published in two books by Antonio Veneziani, Italy's foremost beat generation poet and one of the most outspoken members of the Italian gay community - so no self-hatred there either). So it's only logical that the journey would start with stories of self-hatred and internalised homophobia, isn't it?
Also, the other aim of the movie is to examine the catastrophic effects that homophobic religions and morals can have on the psyche of homosexual men.
If you waited until the end of the end credits, you'd have found that the film is in fact dedicated to the victims of homophobic crimes and to their families: in Italy (homeland of the Vatican) more than 200 gay men were murdered in the 10 years preceding the making of the movie alone - and a lot of those murders were triggered by damning proclaims and writings by the present Pope and those who preceded him. So, of course, it's not a comedy, it would be wrong to expect one - though I feel there's also a lot of (mainly dark) humour in it.
I like to challenge my audience's intelligence and take them, with the movies I make, on journeys that end differently from the way they might expect - this is because I respect their intelligence - and assume that they will stick with it 'til the end! ;-)
Jokes aside, I accept that people might find my work boring or complicated or whatever, I'm open to any comments, but it upsets me when my intentions are completely misunderstood because one can't be bothered to watch my work in its entirety - which didn't stop you from publishing a damaging review which - as testified above - will put people off something they might otherwise enjoyed.
The American dvd contains an interview with me where I try to explain some of the aims and motivations I had when making this film, but perhaps these reviews I found on the net will help you understand what I mean, I couldn't put it better myself - and they all seem to have managed to watch the whole movie:-)))

Anotherworld (Altromonde) is Fabiomassimo Lozzi's radiant visual interpretation of the interviews with gay men collected in the books Pornocuore and I Mignotti by Italian poets Antonio Veneziani and Riccardo Reim. The books enjoy an almost iconic status among Italy's gay population and, judging from Lozzi's film alone, it is not difficult to see why. The film should be mandatory viewing for all entry-level Cultural Studies and Social Sciences students, so profound is its exploration of psyche, sexuality, society, and the radical ways in which they intersect. And this does not even begin to assess the integrity of its formal achievement, which is considerable. Lozzi has tapped the creative talents of the famed Actor's Centre in Rome (Michael Margotta's extension of the NY based Actor's Studio) and he worked with the actors there for a period of six months in which they developed and shot the series of 43 linked monologues which comprise this 106-minute experimental production. Between monologues the camera is lyrical and expressionist, with segments like connective tissue drenched in cross-processed contrasts, exotic flares of yellows, greens, and reds, with fleeting images of bodies underwater (the swimmer comes up for air after the first positive monologue) or of dripping leaves, clustered candles, weeping stone angels, etc. Its short spoken vignettes have a pronounced theatrical aspect; they are soliloquys delivered by characters whose tongues have been freed by the privacy implied in the form. Scenes range from shower stalls,steam-rooms, bedrooms and other interiors to graveyards, railway stations, and churches; they are linked by subtle verbal and visual cues which together articulate some delicate high-notes above a more profound narrative trajectory.
This deeper story travels the distance from self-loathing and torment to liberation and love, and it traverses such psychosexual peaks and troughs as are seldom acknowledged in films anywhere. Some audience members objected to the relentless way in which the film explored aspects of internalized homophobia, but to my mind its fearlessness was exhilarating, not to mention essential to any understanding of the film's message and the power of the subject in general. By including scene after scene of lacerating self-hate and twisted sexual fantasy, Lozzi has methodically built his case, brick-by-brick and from the ground up, and it is consequently a case of such devastating exactitude it is breathtaking, heartbreaking, undeniable. It has to be said also that it's refreshing to be treated by the filmmaker as the adults that we are, equal to the material and ready to contemplate the full range of impact our societal norms inflict. When we hear men describe love as a black hole and themselves as degenerates with no souls, as people you can't love, we bear witness to the devastation of the human soul that can be wreaked by majority rule and official homophobia. It also provides the rich black ground against which we can contemplate with clarity the meaning of the monologues toward the end of the film, the high end of the spectrum, where men speak of being normal and wanting the ordinary things that everybody wants. Sandwiched between a Vatican document pronouncing upon homosexuality as intrinsically wicked, and the words recorded at a gay rights rally in Rome which speak of the renewed hope of living in a civilized country, this compassionate and remarkable film could not be more explicit in its depiction of the contorted lineaments of the human heart. Anotherworld is hands-down the best film of the festival.
(Sally, UNDINE)

In recent years I've noticed a curious phenomenon at the Frameline festival that involves a particular programming slot. There's usually a film shown at around 4:30 p.m. on Gay Pride Day that turns out to be a total sleeper. In 2005 it was a hilarious Spanish romp called Unconscious. In 2006 it was a made for French television movie about the Holocaust entitled A Love To Hide that left audiences stunned, shocked, and profoundly moved. In 2007 it was a gorgeous French film about the friendship between a married man and his gay neighbor entitled The Man of My Life.
This year is no exception, but audiences deserve fair warning. When seen on Gay Pride Day, the first 20 minutes of Altromondo (Anotherworld) may be a bit of a turnoff as extremely homophobic men (including a very muscular skinhead) perform monologues about how much they despise gay men, what little they are good for, and threaten violence toward anyone who so much as dares to look at them the wrong way. Hang in there, because these are the opening segments of a growth curve that will alarm, amuse, enlighten and entertain you all the way to a surprisingly uplifting ending.
Fabiomassino Lozzi describes his film as: "An experimental drama entirely composed by monologues. A personal journey through male homosexuality -- from darkness to light, from total denial to complete acceptance -- as told in monologues performed by actors and adapted from interviews with ordinary Italian gay men. A multi-colored kaleidoscopic journey through a varied and multi-faceted aspect of the human experience that is rarely represented on the big screen."
This is one of those rare films that takes the audience on an emotional and psychological journey from the violence of the closet to the joy of being out.
Each character has a chance to perform a monologue unique to his situation, whether he is a hustler, a guilt-ridden closet case, a gay man who doesn't feel his relationship suffers from his constant cruising in a park at night, or a grown man recalling how, in his early teens, he happily seduced his uncle and is proud that they have been together ever since.
There is the elderly man who has been going to a small town's adult cinema for 40 years and would love to be a guide for younger gay men, showing them what sections of the theater are used for different activities and introducing them to the old-timers so they can get to know part of his "family of men."
There is the total bottom who has never found anything as wonderful as his first humiliating experiences at the hands (and feet) of a classmate.
There is the man who describes how a schoolmate's phone call to his father (in which the caller asked to talk to the man's "faggoty son") finally forced him out of the closet and into a wonderfully supportive relationship with his father.
There is the elderly man making pasta who scornfully refers to the Pope as "that Ratzinger girl."
There is the international artist, fully out of the closet, leading a frequent-flyer lifestyle, who describes how his lover has become his muse.
While the film benefits immensely from Benjamin Minot's cinematography and a magnificent original score by Giordano Corapi (with hints of Erik Satie's famous three Gymnopedies), the breadth of gay humanity unveiled in the film is what gives the monologues so much emotional power. Each monologue almost feels like an aria about masculinity. Each ends with a stylishly cinematic transition to the next man's story.
(George Heymont, MY CULTURAL LANDSCAPE)

ANOTHERWORLD (dir. Fabiomassimo Lozzi, Italy, 106 Mins.) Though simply described as 43 monologues about being gay in Italy may seem, the impact of the film was breathtaking. Even though a great majority of the pieces are dramatic, if not severe (based on interviews pulled from Antonio Veneziani and Riccardo Reim’s books Pornocuore and I Mignotti), Lozzi’s affirming personal climax was sincerely moving. It is an exceptionally theatrical piece, as it was workshopped on stage, however it breaks free from being stagebound by director Lozzi's imaginative production design and exceptional editing. Not to mention, the 50+ actors are all gorgeous - there isn't a dawg in the pack! During the Q&A, Lozzi explained that it was a hugely popular project for actors in Rome and that a great many of the performers are television and film stars who wanted to lend their voices to this piece about the cultural and self-imposed oppression of being gay in the Roman Catholic controlled country. Though the material can be exceptionally difficult at points, and the format of all those monologues can seem intimidating, I found it to be a rewarding experience!
(Jay C Bird, LIFE WITH MOVIES AND MAXXX)

A handful of men discuss their lives, their sexuality and their self-acceptance in this unorthodox drama from writer and director Fabiomassimo Lozzi. Altromondo (aka Another World) is comprised of a series of monologues which Lozzi says were inspired by interviews he conducted with a broad cross section of gay men. As the camera wanders the streets of Rome late at night, the movement stops periodically so a number of men can speak to the audience about themselves and their sexuality, with some open and enthusiastic about their love for other men and other in deep and shameful denial of their desires, while the subjects range from fiercely butch to fabulously flamboyant. As Lozzi allows a wide variety of gay men to share their views of themselves and the community, he helps celebrate their diversity as well as portraying their commonalities. Starring Francesco Apolloni, Federico Pacifici, Davide Ross and Filippo Sandon, Another World received its North American premiere at the 2008 Montreal World Film Festival.
(Mark Deming, ALL MOVIE GUIDE)

Straddling the border between fiction and reality, Fabiomassimo Lozzi’s Anotherworld explores gay male identity among Italian men. Based on interviews pulled from Antonio Veneziani and Riccardo Reim’s books Pornocuore and I Mignotti, Lozzi’s magnificent film features 43 confessional vignettes which lead to a dizzying array of entry points into machismo, ambiguity, beauty and hatefulness. Lozzi engaged the Actor’s Centre in Rome, which features many of Italy’s most talented (and best looking) actors. In amazingly short sequences, these men are able to communicate gulfs of repression and pride, all the while keeping us focused on oft-tumultuous emotional and sexual tensions.
The film is not for the faint of heart, as there is an explicit attempt to marry poetry and pain in the director’s choices. But, those who give themselves up to the experience are rewarded with moments of haunting beauty and dazzling psychological insights.
At its heart, Anotherworld pushes at the constant struggle that one faces to live both with one’s self and amongst others. It’s in this way that Lozzi has managed to focus on a very specific subject of gay male desire and in the process produced a work of art that is universal.
(SEAN UYEHARA, FRAMELINE 33 - SAN FRANCISCO LGBT FILM FESTIVAL)

The often violent and befuddling intersection of machismo and homosexuality is at the heart of the beginning vignettes of Fabiomassimo Lozzi’s Anotherworld. Through numerous (arguably excessive) testimonies gleaned from books by Riccardo Reim and enacted by capable actors, he candidly presents a hard-edged, conflicted virility in all its vileness, violence, allure, and seeming anarchy of ethics before shifting his focus to more banal-but still meaningful- accounts of defining one’s homosexual identity in a nation one subject angrily describes as a "Catholic dictatorship".
Specifically, these vignettes are of Italian men who engage in gay sex, whether or not they identify as a homo. Indeed, some of them impetuously impugn homosexuality and discuss their own endeavors as something quite distinct.
This succession of confessions is neither dry nor straightforwardly presented. Sometimes, there is a stylized ominousness in image and audio, as in jarring, flashy cuts between shots of men dripping with salaciousness and aggressively uttered repetitions of epithets.
At times, it takes a shape that approximates rape fantasy- a fetishizing of violence. Beyond explanations of the sanctioned violence of sadomasochistic play, such as the use of oxygen regulation to prolong orgasm, there is the more threatening, politically implicated violence of a neo-Nazi who responds to a bathroom wall message associating Nazis and queers by advertising for a "Black slave" to go with his "Nazi cock".
It’s doubtful that the violence described is what the Black subject had in mind, but we cannot be sure. Depravity is poorly delineated; its boundaries and those of desire are ambiguous and personal.
Though Lozzi’s intentions in ordering these vignettes is not clear, it is true that the espousals of hatred and hints of depravity that color the first half of the film are the most memorable and, arguably, the most insightful.
One straight-identified hooker describes the sexual activities of gay men as "perversions for degenerates" and asserts that he would promptly dump his girlfriend for doing such things at the same time he concedes to getting pleasure from participation.
Another man flounders as he tries to justify his homo desire by speculating on its temporality and separating himself from what he feels is the sleaziness of gay cruising rituals with a suspicious vehemence.
Though the men who resist gay identification are generally more poignant in words and in the way their story is visually depicted, stories of acceptance and romance provide a needed balance and a few moments worth retaining.
For example, an older gentleman reflects on his undying love for the man he convened with clandestinely to attain the fulfillment he couldn’t get from his wife. Alone now, he cruises in parks; and when no tricks materialize he contentedly sits on a bench and remembers his beloved.
Stereotypical vignettes, such as that of a young man who moulds his existence out of fervor for Madonna, could be omitted to make this a more succinct and impacting piece, but overall the film works as an honest, keen exploration of the contradictions of modern gay identity.
(Kevin Langson, EDGE magazine)