The good, the bad and the retro
Tales from the Crypt (18) Ernest Dickerson Somebody to Love (15) Alexandre Rockwell Nana (no cert) Jean Renoir
Thursday 01 June 1995
A couple of narrative twists aside, this production fields two big surprises. The first is that its director is Ernest Dickerson, the cinematographer who made Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X blaze and shimmer like David Lean epics gone streetwise; the second that, though a touch too handsome for its grungy contents, there's nothing ponderous about the movie: it's as gleefully corny and lacking in taste as the EC comic.
Like John Carpenter's last decent shocker Prince of Darkness, Demon Knight involves both the imminent repossession of the universe by satanic forces and a motley gang holed up in confined space - here, a remote hotel - and trying to stop them. Brayker (William Sadler) is the undead good guy, bearing a cross filled with the blood from Christ's wounds; the Collector (Billy Zane) is the malevolent representative of Old Nick. One by one, the hotel inmates are lured by tailor-made temptations. One by one, they get pulped. Not the sort of fare likely to modify anyone's sensibility, but exuberantly unpleasant. HUAC would have disapproved.
Somebody to Love is an oddity: though it's the first stab at a star vehicle for Rosie Perez (another Do the Right Thing graduate), it looks like a random assembly of out-takes from Reservoir Dogs, since the cast includes not only Harvey Keitel (as a vainglorious, washed-up actor) and Steve Buscemi (in utterly inexplicable drag), but Mr Tarantino himself, firing off one of his increasingly unamusing monologues as a stroppy bartender. And though it feels rambling, the plot is relatively straightforward: Mercedes (Ms Perez), a poor young Hispanic woman struggling to better herself as an actress, is in largely unrequited love with Harry (Keitel); Ernesto (Michael DeLorenzo), a still poorer young Hispanic man struggling to establish himself as a gangster, is in largely unrequited love with Mercedes. After many complications, including cameos from Anthony Quinn and (hey, just like Pierrot le fou!) Sam Fuller, it all ends in tears and blood.
Scene by scene, Somebody to Love can be engaging - Perez and Keitel would have to knock themselves out to be dull, and DeLorenzo makes his character's doe-eyed chivalry seem perfectly plausible. But the incidents never quite gel into a satisfying narrative. What seemed like freewheeling eccentricity in Alexandre Rockwell's last feature, In the Soup, now looks more like indulgent rambling.
Advance warning to Renoir fans: on 21 June, London's Institut Francais (0171-589 6211) will be screening le patron's silent film Nana (1926), with a live musical accompaniment by the Ensemble Flexus. Starring Renoir's wife Catherine Hessling as Zola's courtesan, Nana is the film to which, Francois Truffaut said, the director thought back when he made La Regle du Jeu. True enough; though whether Nana's first audiences could have seen forward to that sublime work is another matter. n All films on release from Fri
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Eurovision 2015: What date is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Jar Jar Binks is going to die unceremoniously in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
JK Rowling is 'really sorry' for killing off one of your favourite Harry Potter characters
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally