Archive for October 14, 2005

Domino

October 14, 2005

domino-332-713222Domino Harvey, who died in 2005 at age 34, was a model and the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey. Her rootless early life left her with a lot of aggression, which found focus in her second career as a bounty hunter. The director Tony Scott was a friend of hers, and he’s made much in the press about how his film Domino is a tribute to her memory. That’d be nice if it were true, but the only thing Domino pays homage to — or shows affection for — is Scott’s heavy hand in the editing room. Sure to be regarded as excruciating by some and electrifying by others, the movie is run through so many filters, film stocks, and Avid whiz-bang it makes Natural Born Killers look like Barry Lyndon.

I usually loathe such hyperactive lab experiments; Oliver Stone, in Natural Born Killers, at least incorporated the scattershot style into his message about how the media fractures us all, and he used it in an emotionally direct (if bullying) way that kept us subliminally connected to the characters. Tony Scott doesn’t do anything like that in Domino — there’s no real thematic reason for the movie to look or act the way it does; it’s just a gimmick. That said, I didn’t mind it much. Domino has been lambasted all over the place, but it’s not that bad; it leaves us as exhausted as its heroine (Keira Knightley), but much of the ride is amusing.

“Based on a true story — sort of,” the ads qualify. Well, Domino is a movie — sort of. It’s like an entire season of a nonexistent Domino TV series telescoped frantically into two hours and five minutes of highlights, with all the plot convolutions that implies. Essentially, it’s a string of double-crosses and triple-crosses in which Domino and her partners — hard-bitten beef jerky Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke) and sensitive ex-con Choco (Edgar Ramirez) — attempt to locate $10 million so that their cut of the take can pay for a young girl’s operation. I could try to explain the connection between Domino and the young girl, but it would be the most complicated sentence ever; it involves Delroy Lindo, Mo’Nique, the FBI, the Mafia, the Jerry Springer Show, and a reality show tailing Domino’s every move (directed from a trailer by Christopher Walken).

Dabney Coleman is in it. Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering, veterans of Beverly Hills 90210, are in it as themselves — sort of. Tom Waits is in it — I kind of have to give this a “Worth a Look” rating for that alone. Domino is one insane gibbering beast, leagues more idiosyncratic than the average action flick, and I suppose part of this is due to the participation of screenwriter Richard Kelly, who wrote and directed 2001’s brilliantly confounding Donnie Darko. I enjoyed seeing Mickey Rourke and Christopher Walken share the screen again, though it’s nothing more dramatic than a “creative meeting” for the reality show. Keira Knightley poses and snarls fetchingly enough, but time will tell whether she can act or just attitudinize — in any event, Domino is written as a posturing and hollow collection of bad-grrl reflexes, so there’s nothing that even a seasoned and complex actress could’ve done that Knightley doesn’t do. Like the character herself, she’s needed only as a face, a voice, a body.

Domino is the sort of disreputable night out that I hesitate to recommend because it’s disreputable in the wrong ways — it exemplifies pretty much everything I despise about the direction movies are heading. But Tony Scott works in a spirit of caffeinated roughhouse fun. It probably gets at the tone of bounty-hunting work more effectively than a more sober-sided account of the actual Domino Harvey’s life could have. I have no idea if the film’s aggressively cluttered plot is based on anything real, but it’s structured as a bad-girl-makes-good parable with an Xtreme veneer. At the very end, we see the real woman herself, looking gaunt and tomboyish and almost shy, yet her eyes tell us more about the reality of her life than the preceding two hours have. Those eyes almost shame us for what we’ve been watching. I had a good time, though — sort of.

I Am a Sex Addict

October 14, 2005

357x480One certainly can’t fault Caveh Zahedi for candor. Standing stock still with his arms plastered at his sides, as if his whole body were mimicking his priapism, Zahedi tells us all about the various misfortunes arising from his indulgence of his “prostitute fetish.” His movie I Am a Sex Addict focuses on this and nothing else, and after a while it grows monotonous.

Zahedi talks about various women he’s gotten serious with, who for one reason or another were driven away by his compulsion to get blowjobs from prostitutes. Even when he finds himself a laid-back, free-spirited woman who doesn’t mind his fetish, after a while she finds it monotonous. Over and over again, we see Zahedi propositioning prostitutes in different countries (and in different languages) with the same words — “How much? Will you suck me?” — and sometimes he makes the rounds and mistakenly asks the same prostitutes twice, and after a while they find it monotonous. Zahedi can’t stop seeking out prostitutes, and after a while he finds it … yeah. You get it.

I got it too, after about thirty minutes. Which was possibly the ideal length for I Am a Sex Addict (it goes on for 99). Occasionally amusing, and capably performed by the actresses playing Zahedi’s ill-starred lovers (particularly Amanda Henderson — who’s like Jewel Staite’s dissipated older sister — as the aforementioned free spirit Devin), the movie nonetheless can’t sustain the thin interest of a man’s obsession with outlaw fellatio. It’s clear that Zahedi’s problem stems from issues with self-esteem and intimacy, though he grew up in time to be influenced by the I’m-OK-You’re-OK psychobabble of the ’70s. He wants to be honest at all costs, and he is. It never occurs to him to lie to his girlfriends, but it also never occurs to him that his “sensitivity” is just another form of insensitivity.

I Am a Sex Addict is interestingly assembled out of home-movie footage and re-enactments; Zahedi often pauses to tell us anecdotes about the actresses playing his girlfriends — he doesn’t even wait for the DVD to furnish an audio commentary. He has a compelling camera face, with deep-set eyes yearning for you, for everyone, to understand him. And he’s certainly not interested in making himself look cool for the camera; his orgasmic shrieks and cartoonish “oh” faces provide some low laughs, but after a while they get — you know.

I suppose the trap of the material is Zahedi’s absolute dedication to sharing every nook and cranny of his obsession; by definition, obsessive fantasies are like infinite loops, spinning their weaver round and round until he or she either seeks help or is consumed. After all that, Zahedi blows off his latest and most successful relationship — seven years together, then marriage — in about five minutes of screen time, which is about half as long as he spends on a sequence in a Munich brothel. I wish him and his bride the best — especially her, because she may need it.