Friday, June 09, 2006

Anyone check you for a heartbeat recently?

Can I suggest John Dahl's perfect neo-noir The Last Seduction for when you're not sure what to watch this weekend? I saw it last night for the first time in a couple of years and it's just as delicious, cruel, and pulpy as I remembered. I want my film noirs unapologetically mean and black as pitch, that's why Dahl's exercise in evil will always warm my heart. Two hours of Linda Fiorentino scheming/killing/fucking her way further and further off any recognizible moral grid? Yes, please.

Besides its darkness, I think the reason I love this film so much is it strikes such a deft balance: it's not some glib exercise in "noir," it is a noir... But, as Roger Ebert points out, there's still a comedic element to it. We don't laugh at it because, wink wink nudge nudge, we're above this material, we laugh because it's relentless and vulgar and mean. Well, that and the script is genuinely hilarious in places. This scene--featuring the unholy combination of Fiorentino's Mojave-dry delivery, Peter Berg's clueless small town guy shtick, and Steve Barancik's writing--is a perfect exmaple:
[A little set-up: Mike (Berg) is desperately trying to pick-up Bridget (Fiorentino) in a bar. She is having none of it.]

Bridget Gregory: Could you leave? Please?
Mike Swale: I haven't finished charming you yet.
Bridget Gregory: You haven't started.
Mike Swale: Gimme a chance.
Bridget Gregory: Look, go find yourself a nice little cowgirl and make nice little cowbabies and leave me alone.
Mike Swale: I'm hung like a horse. Think about it.
Bridget Gregory: Let's see.
Mike Swale: Excuse me?
Bridget Gregory: Mr. Ed, let's see.
Mike Swale: Look, I tried to be nice. I can see that's something you're not...
Bridget Gregory: No, I'm trying. I can be very nice when I try. Sit down.
Mike Swale: OK, maybe we just got off to a bad start. I know plenty of people---
[Bridget unzips his fly]
Mike Swale: What are you doing?
Bridget Gregory: I believe what we're looking for is a certain horse-like quality...

So perfect, so eeeeeevil.

I must admit, I've never worked up the courage to rent the straight-to-video softcore followup (imaginatively titled The Last Seduction II) that features not a single member of the original cast or crew. Have any of youse?


At 12:22 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

I added this to my Netflix list!

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Ben said...

You won't be disappointed. (I don't think.)

At 12:40 PM, Blogger girish said...

This elegantly sadistic movie has a special place in my heart not just because it's so much fun but also because it was partly set in my neck of the woods in western New York. Haven't seen it since it came out though; overdue for revisit.

His previous two movies (Kill Me Again, Red Rock West) are also kinda fun, though he hasn't made anything really good since Seduction, I think...

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Did you see 2001's Joyride? I'm actually quite fond of it-- I'm not sure how it's possible (Paul Walker and Leelee Sobieski are the leads!), but I think it's a great little thriller.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger girish said...

Nice--I'll check it out for sure.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Tuwa said...

I saw this movie years ago and thought it was just fantastic--unrepentantly wicked, and thoroughly wonderful because of it. I've hesitated to watch it again for fear I wouldn't like it as much the second time around.

I usually have no fondness for sequels (Godfather II and very few others excepted), so no, I haven't bothered with the second one.

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous sacha said...

I just re-watched it too--IFC, right? Absolutely love it--one of my all time faves and the first VHS tape I ever purchased. The whole cast is perfect, but I especially love Bill Pullman. Has he been better? I love his timing and physicality. Great soundtrack too.

At 6:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

haven't seen The Last Seduction since it came out on video (don't even remember renting it, now that i think about it). just added it to my rental list. thanks :)

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Sacha-- Pullman (and his hair) are pretty damn perfect. Seduction came out the same year as the deliciously overwrought Malice; Pullman's pretty great in that too.

Sam-- Glad to hear it. Its charm hasn't diminished.


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