Ask the Dust (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

It's the 1930s, it's Los Angeles, it's a script by Robert Towne, but it sure as hell isn't Chinatown. Towne has been waiting to direct an adaptation of John Fante's cult novel Ask the Dust for 30 years, but on this evidence you have to ask why. Colin Farrell plays Arturo Bandini, a young novelist scraping by in a flea-pit hotel when he encounters fiery Latina waitress Camilla (Salma Hayek) and suddenly locates his muse. The movie is utterly lacking in narrative urgency, and neither Farrell's voiceover nor the film's heavily stylised dialogue offers any compensating diversion.