Film Scouts Reviews


by Leslie Rigoulot

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New York, Sept. 29, 1996

Written and directed by Nick Gomez. Produced by Larry Meistrich. Cinematography by Jim Denault. Production design by Susan Bolles. Edited by Tracy Granger. Music by Brian Keane

Starring: Michael Rapaport (Dante), Lili Taylor (Suzanne), Adam Trese (Gabriel), Kevin Corrigan (Francis), Angela Featherstone (Lilly), Tony Danza (D'Avalon), Isaac Hayes (George), Paul Schulze (Lucas), Saul Stein (Gunther).

Most of us think of drug dealers as bad guys. Nick Gomez wants us to know there are some nice people in drug dealing - ordinary folks who play golf and have family values and worry about keeping their crews (teenage boys who peddle the drugs for them, presumably to other teenagers) from defecting to the competition. The trouble is, these nice people are leaving drug dealing and it's being taken over by the bad people whom the nice people screwed over a long time ago. We slowly find out what went down in the distant past only when the nice people sit down and shoot up - and remember. Weird thing: memory only operates when you're high.

Lily Taylor is good enough to create the only credible character in the movie. The rest of the cast contribute to the wannabe alienation of the story. In the context of drug-peddling, the whole appeal to us about how hard life is for these people since drug dealing has become difficult makes me wanna side with the Feds. And that's not a nice feeling.

There's an enormous amount of violence in the movie that builds to a showdown in a poolhall, when our hero, Dante, goes to face a young kid who can blow away people without blinking. Now Dante has moral compunction about shooting people in cold blood, so we have to wonder if he'll really shoot this kid. He does. And it hurts him so much, he has to shoot up to deal with it. Yawn.

This movie is rampant nonsense tarted up as an art film. Characters stand around in Godard-style confrontation with the camera and say things like, "Money is easy, philosophy is hard" - a paraphrase of the deathbed line of a famous Shakespearean actor who once said, "Death is easy. Comedy's hard."

Nick Gomez argues that this movie is not about anything, that it was a project that ran out of money and turned into a total experiment. Listen, Nick, the experiment failed. Go back to making realistic movies like "Laws of Gravity." You seemed to know what you were doing then, because realism is easy. Philosophy is too hard.

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