Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales (2007)

When I watch an Abel Ferrara film, my mind always hearkens back to homilies that I've heard, the Catholic education that I've had, and my own adult-life experiences. Ferrara makes films about vices and within each film there is a character who is struggling with a tenuous control over his/her vice: Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant (1992); Lili Taylor in The Addiction (1995); or Matthew Modine in The Blackout (1997). As with these examples, the vice controls the character or vice versa. However, to put it another way, Ferrara makes films about sinning. Each character is actually struggling with human weaknesses. There is either redemption or there is not. Hate the sin, not the sinner. For Ferrara, it's love the sin, love it a little more, and then, by the end, forgive me for loving it.

So much for that junk. Go Go Tales (2007) gave me ample opportunity to let my erratic and guilt-ridden mind go for a hundred minutes or so and absorb the eye-candy. This Italian/American co-production is set in a strip club, the Paradise Lounge, run by Ray Ruby (Willem Dafoe). Ruby loves the ladies, like a father of a seriously dysfunctional family. His club is about to fold. His hairdresser brother, Matthew Modine, as silent partner, is about to pull out of the venture. Bob Hoskins plays the barker; and he's incredulous why the Chinese tourists want to eat crab across the street instead of look at the lovely ladies.

Ferrara loves the ladies, as well. Asia Argento and Stefania Rocca standout as two of the ensemble. Argento plays Monroe, the new dancer. She's a dog lover and likes to have her menacing mutt lay next to her on stage while she works the pole. Rocca plays Debby, who's really an actress about to score that big part. Ferrara's camera doesn't shy away from showing many a female dancing up a storm. The film is set almost entirely in Ray's strip club. It's completely dark, save for ambient lights of various neon colors. Near the end of the film, the strip club shuts down: time for a talent show.

Like my description, the film is all over the place. Go Go Tales feels like a CD skipping, which I wished would just catch and finish a song. Ferrara went for a comedy, and unfortunately, wasn't successful. It is quite beautiful, ironically, and that's about all I can say for it.

No comments: