This is another happy delighty type of business, or surprise, like Maniac. Because I hadn’t heard jack shit about this picture being good and it turns out to be something very special. You see it is a crime picture about some junkie thieves who train some young junkie thieves to steal stuff, and the twist is, they are a gang who shoots up and goes on heists.
Well, I guess special isn’t maybe the right word, because it is formula genre type stuff, but this is a good crime picture because the acting and photographical worksmanship and the music and what not are all top notch and this one just really holds together.
The director is Larry Clark, a known photographer which only directed the movie Kids before this. I haven’t seen that one yet but I think I speak for pretty much everyone here when I say thanks Larry for introducing Chloe Sevigny to the big screen. You’re one of the good ones Lar. Anyway according to the commentary track, Larry was a known junkie who hung out with armed robbers growing up, and he took an unpublished manuscript by an ex-con (nope, not somebody I know) and combined it with his own experiences to make the script. Like there is a scene where James Woods tells an anecdote about a dude walking into a blues bar carrying a severed head. And Larry claims it really happened to him. Lying motherfucker in my opinion but still, you can be a lying motherfucker and still be a good director.
This is a story of James Woods and Melanie Griffith taking a young teenage couple under their wings and forming sort of a robbery family. The teenage boy Billy or Bobby or whatever is played by Vincent Cartheiser, who looks like a girl and has only ever starred in kids movies like Alaska and Masterminds and probaly some Benji movie or that type of thing. It’s too bad nobody’s ever heard of the dude because if he was a big teen heart throb this would be a god damn scandal. Here he is looking all pretty but he’s shooting up, shooting people, stabbing people, grunting like an animal, covered in blood, having violent sex, getting sucked off, saying motherfucker alot and wearing his pants so low you can see his pubic hair sticking out. I mean have these kids today even heard of belts, that’s all I’m saying.
Well the kid is good, and so is the cute gal playing his girlfriend. But the real standouts in this picture are James Woods and Melanie Griffith who both give some of the best performings of their careers. I was especially surprised by Melanie because to be frankly honest the gal can be pretty annoying. But here she is perfect as a fucked up 40 year old who loves to shop and shoot dope into her neck but also has a sweet, motherly side to her that is hard to resist. I kept thinking it was a set up, and she was going to turn femme fatale, fuck Billy and turn him and James Woods against each other. But the story, formulaic as it may be, never seems to go the phoney hollywood route. It is true to the characters.
And the best part is when a deal goes sour and sweet motherly Melanie sticks up for her boys, and blows away some motherfuckers with a big shot gun. She’s wearing a comfy red sweater and a hair do exactly like Tipper Gore, so it’s a funny juxtaposition. I’m not sure if looking like Tipper Gore while blowing motherfuckers away qualifies her for my Badass Juxtaposition theory, but it is definitely good Cinema. If you like the crime pictures then put this at the top of your list guys, trust me. It is like Drugstore Cowboy, only different. If anyone from the movie studio is reading this, you can quote me on that and put it on the box or whatever. thanks.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.