Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Club Life: New York Nightlife Circa 2008
of Johnny D’s greatest accomplishments as a night club promoter will be
drumming up business on Tuesday nights. Funny, those of us who went to school
in Ohio might just remember Tuesday as a traditional going out night, but
evidently Manhattan hipsters needed more convincing. Viewers get a sanitized
behind-the-scenes peak into the ins-and-outs of night club promotion, based on
the real life experiences of co-star-co-screenwriter Danny “A.” Abeckaser in
Fabrizio Conte’s Club Life (trailer here), which opens today in New York.
it or not, getting beautiful women to your club is a top priority for a veteran
operator like Mark Cohen. If you comp enough models, the prospective sugar
daddies and horn dogs will follow. It turns out “Johnny D,” as he will soon be
known, has a talent for it. He could use the money too. The independent limo
driver’s father has had a massive stroke and the family has no insurance.
with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend and her hot friends and quickly graduating to
bored junior models living in agency apartments, Johnny D brings a steady
stream of investment banker bait to the club Cohen promotes. However, Johnny D
(or is that D Train) grows tired of lining the pockets of the sleazy owner.
With Cohen, he launches “Tuesday, Baby, Tuesday,” taking over a club on the
dead night by guaranteeing a minimum dollar volume at the bar. Of course, it is
only a matter of time before someone as ambitious as Johnny D clashes with
someone as territorial as Cohen.
Club Life should have been way more
hedonistic than it turned out to be. For some reason, Conte is just as
interested in Johnny D’s strained relationship with his judgmental mother as he
is in the sausage making of the night club business. While it might imply Cohen’s
boss is a bit of a shady character, organized crime plays no appreciable role
in the film, which will probably strike seasoned New Yorkers as rather Pollyannaish.
the risk of accentuating the negative, a little more gangsterism could have
worked wonders for Club Land. After
all, the best aspect of the film is the attitude delivered by Abeckaser as
Cohen and Robert Davi as his demanding client. Listening to them sneer and jeer
is a lot of fun. On the other hand, Tovah Feldshuhh is routinely great on
stage, but she is a real wet blanket as the charmless Mother D. Still, Entourage’s Jerry Ferrara makes a
believable enough hustler, but the film has him spinning his wheels in too many
There is enough New Yorkiness in Club Land to keep it watchable, but it
is hard to shake the suspicion Conte, Abeckaser, and company have watered-down
the real story, for someone’s benefit. No match for Last Days of Disco or 54 (theatrical
or director’s cut) Club Land might
eventually be worth of stream when people start getting nostalgic for the late-aughts
club scene. It opens today (5/29) in New York, at the AMC Empire (and launches on iTunes).
Labels: New York Cinema, Robert Davi