Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ten Statements About....SLAM DANCE (1987)

"I wanted to be different for a long time. But I was the same. I was always the same. I can't go back."

1) I now understand why Tom Hulce didn't have the career so many people thought he would after Amadeus...dude's got a Bobble Head. I mean, his melon is so huge. His inability to actually convince me he's in danger all the while he's being chased around by the New Wave Scumbag Detectives might have something to do with it as well.

2) Since this is an attempt to recast a noir story in a New Wave context, we've got a number of characters played by actual New Wave musicians. Adam Ant, playing Hulce's agent, is actually pretty good (and it's not for nothing that Mr. Ant had an actual career in Hollywood for a few years, mainly playing heavies), as is John Doe as one of the New Wave Scumbag Detectives (and like Mr. Ant, Doe had a small acting career as well), but Mitchell Froom is a little too 'Kid Playing Cowboy'...and since he has the largest role of the three, I'm not impressed.

3) It's interesting how the deeper Hulce's Drood gets into the mystery, the color palette of the film subtly changes, with the brighter reds and blues of the New Wave portion is swapped for the darker, more sombre tones more appropriate for a film noir.

4) Boy, I think my friend Derrick is right...Harry Dean Stanton was born a middle aged man. I do find it amusing that Stanton has the most new-wave name (Detective Smiley--and we do learn down the line that it is his actual name!), and is the most noirish character.

5) Now this film runs an hour and forty minutes--but it would run a little under ninety minutes if director Wayne Wang hadn't indulged in his art-house sensibilities and given us a number of very, very lengthy montages. Hell, the next-to-last scene includes something like three or four minutes of Hulce's preparation for what he's about to do.

6) And Wang's art-house-iness also invades the mystery itself. At its core it's about a sex scandal--but since Wang puts such a peculiar spin on said sex scandal (why are the men wearing Scuba masks? Why is Virginia Madsen sitting in a shallow fountain?), it actually serves to muddy the water rather than illuminating it. Hell, I didn't realize there was a sex scandal until the film was halfway over, even though the scandal is introduced very early on in the film's running time.

7) And speaking of Virginia Madsen....My God, does she fill out that one party dress exquisitely (that was the main selling point of the film in its original run after all). Her role is extremely small, but she does fill it out well.

And yes, I did intend that statement to have a whiff of double entendre....

8) Adam Ant in tiny blue shorts and a snapback cap with a comical moose face on it....some things cannot be unseen.

9) This is one of those neo-noirs--Romeo Is Bleeding is another one-- where there's not a single character who's really sympathetic. And, like Romeo Is Bleeding, the realization that the main character's wife is as scummy as everyone else is the one that sinks the film as a whole for me.

10) And sadly, this is one of those films where the director dresses the film up in the trappings of a social movement without making the film unique to said social movement. It's not as bad as the so-called psychedelic films of the 60's in that respect, it is pretty disingenuous. times very frustrating in its art-house-iness and seeming disinterest in being the new wave detective story it claims it is, this is still intriguing as an artifact of it's time...and, to be fair, it was for the longest time the only place you could hear my favorite Stan Ridgway track of all time, the demented 'Bing Can't Walk.'

No comments:

Post a Comment