Archive for October 1991

The Rapture

October 22, 1991

How are you gonna keep ‘em on the farm once they’ve seen God? That’s the question posed by this somewhat full-of-itself but bizarrely intriguing allegory. Mimi Rogers is Sharon, a bitter Los Angeles phone operator who goes cruising at night for kinky sex with couples. The people at her office begin whispering of a dream about “the pearl” and speaking in grave tones about Judgment Day. People from all over have had this same dream, but only the ones who have accepted Christ as their personal savior. Sharon thinks this is bullshit, but some part of her wants to believe it because her life has begun to nauseate her.

After a few days Sharon comes around; she gives up the swinger life and even smoking, and Mimi Rogers’ performance gets bland for a while. Scrubbed and content, Sharon marries her former swinging partner (David Duchovny), has a beautiful blond girl, and looks heavenward every few frames. Then God calls her to the desert, and Rogers’ performance becomes brave and complex, as does the movie, until its ultra-literal and borderline goofy finale. First-time director Michael Tolkin (The Player) is to be commended for bringing off what could’ve been a tedious sermon. (His sense of humor comes through when the converted Sharon gushes about God while a fellow swinger thinks she’s talking about some new guy she’s picked up.) Exasperating at times — as the most challenging films often are — but provocative and ambitious.

The Dark Backward

October 2, 1991

A seriously weird, seriously cool surreal black comedy from director Adam Rifkin, who sadly never really followed up on its promise. Judd Nelson is Marty Malt, a nerdy, greasy, miserably bad stand-up comic who grows a lump on his back. The lump turns into an arm. Bill Paxton, in one of his patented gonzo performances, is Marty’s buddy Gus, who eats rancid garbage and likes to lick nude corpses. Lara Flynn Boyle is Marty’s sweetheart Rosarita (“What’s a podiatrist?”). James Caan is great as Dr. Scurvy, who tells Marty to ignore the arm (“I’m tired of wimps like you comin’ in here all the time, complaining about contusions or hands growing out your back”). Wayne Newton adds to his repertoire of sleazy roles as talent agent Jackie Chrome. Disfigured by a fake nose and glued-back ears, Rob Lowe puts in a flamboyant cameo as Hollywood shark Dirk Delta. It’s essentially a John Waters movie, only more deadpan and without Waters’ mitigating affection. It’s one of those films you might catch late at night and not quite believe you’re seeing what you’re seeing.