Combustible Celluloid
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With: Willem Dafoe, Bob Hoskins, Matthew Modine, Asia Argento, Lou Doillon, Roy Dotrice, Sylvia Miles, Burt Young, Mara Adriani, Bianca Balti, Sebina Beganovic, Franky Cee, Joseph Cortese, Leslie Csuth, Frank DeCurtis, Nicky Dee, Dominot, Aurora Giuliani, Singh Gurcharnjit, Mar�a Jurado, Selena Khoo, Xhilda Lapardhaja, Shanyn Leigh, Andy Luotto, Alberto Mangiante, Justine Mattera, Yuliya Mayarchuk, Julie McNiven, Lal Nirmal, Anita Pallenberg, Sammy Pasha, Chiara Picchi, Romina Power, Pras, Danny Quinn, Stefania Rocca, Anton Rodgers, Riccardo Scamarcio, Johnny Skreli, Leila Virzi, Manuela Zero
Written by: Abel Ferrara
Directed by: Abel Ferrara
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 105
Date: 05/23/2007

Go Go Tales (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A Report from SFIFF

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales is very reminiscent of John Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, but not as focused. (Ferrara's style is even more rambling.) Willem Dafoe plays Ray Ruby, a man living his dream by running a strip club. The trouble is that the club is failing, the girls haven't been paid and Ray loves to blow all his money on lotto tickets. A series of miniature dramas play out over the course of one night. Old friends stop in, new customers come and go, strippers dance and complain, and a man tries to sell organic hot dogs! A tanning booth explodes, nearly burning down the joint. The abrasive landlady (Sylvia Miles!) shows up, threatening to let "Bed, Bath and Beyond" move in. A stripper called Monroe (Asia Argento) brings in her dog, which gets in the way. (She uses the dog in her act, and more or less makes out with him onstage.) Many familiar faces -- and a few Ferrara regulars -- turn up: Matthew Modine, Bob Hoskins, Burt Young, Pras (from the Fugees) and more. Part of the pleasure of the film is watching all these miniature stories begin and end, or wondering whether they begin at all. Some of the most striking images never go anywhere plotwise, while some of the most mundane turn into drama. Certain events are so astonishingly ludicrous that you have to laugh at their audacity. Ferrara photographs the action with shapes and blurs passing by in front of the camera, as if he secretly captured everything from across the street. He also utilizes security monitors and poorly lit offices and rooms. Ferrara may be a crackpot, but he's one of the last great American mavericks, crazy and aggravating to the point that he has alienated nearly all the American studios. His last several films have been financed (and primarily distributed) overseas, and this print of Go Go Tales came complete with French subtitles!

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