I Saw A Film!

This is one of those situations where I return to a film I quite liked back when it was new and I was a much more naive viewer. As often happens, there were things I liked, things I didn’t like as much, and some remarkable obvious crap that I overlooked back when I was twenty-two or so.

Look at this starring line-up: Tom Hulce (Animal House, Amadeus), Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, she of Carmen Miranda eyes, Virginia Madsen (Dune, Sideways), who continues to wow in whatever she’s in, Adam Ant (Freaking Adam Ant!), and even John Doe (of of west coast punk legends X). Also, the film opens with a Stanard Ridgeway song (just off his stint with Wall of Voodoo, always a favorite) plus some other faux punk rock bits sprinkled about. It was a hard item to ignore! There’s only about three seconds of actual slam dancing by some really overly made up performers–they look straight out of A Clockwork Orange.

The quick of it is that it’s a fair noir whodunnit. The lovely, though rather banal (“I wanted change, but I’m always the same”) Yolanda turns up deaded and Hulce’s character, Drood-a cartoonist, is lead suspect. Harry Dean is Officer Smiley, following him around and John Doe another copper is nastily causing him pains. Meanwhile x-wife Mastrantonio is trying to maintain her distance with their adorbs daughter (never marry an artist) and Drood keeps falling into one weird situation after another as he sloppily tries to uncover what happened to his sometimes mistress. Drood is more clumsy private eye than he is distressed former boyfriend and by the time a pistol falls into his hands you’re wishing someone would slap some sense into him.

It’s the 80s and one glance at Yolanda’s hair says it all (ladies and their pooffy hair). Adam Ant doesn’t sing or dance, he does tell a couple of jokes that don’t land however. Drood soon runs afoul of some thugs who seem like they’ve watched Blue Velvet too much, and overall the film seems to owe a lot, stylistically, to our favorite/most-hated director David Lynch, but possibly with a touch less casual invitation of peril.

What I like about the film is that the bad guys feel like they’re inept (in a Jarmusch way) and the reveal has the feel of something practical while with that Chinatown bigness to it, and cobbled together (from lots of favorites!). What I didn’t like is that Hulce overacts a lot of his scenes. I get he’s supposed to be under a lot of duress, but he’s harder to take than he is in Amadeus with all that cackling. It plain, feels wrong–shed a goddamned tear, what are you a psycho? No wonder Officer Smiley thinks you did it!

This old treat is running free on Prime and you get a step by step of making Egg Tempera paint and that’s worth something. Look at Virginia there on that lobby card – holy cow!

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