Saturday, July 19, 2014


Written & Directed By: James Toback 
Cinematography By: Larry McConkey 
Editor: Suzy Elmiger 
Music By: Oliver “Power” Grant 

Cast: Neve Campbell, Frederick Weller, Dominic Chainese, Karen Allen, Barry Primus, Michael Mailer, James Toback, Damon Dash, Oliver “Power” Grant, Mike Tyson, Lori Singer

Vera is a femme fatale for the 21st century; a beautiful, capricious young woman living in New York whom begins exploring the limits of her sexual and intellectual power. She picks up men on the street and has sex with them in her apartment. She also videotapes a sexual romp with a female lover, and has sexually frank discussions with her potential employer. As the daughter of wealthy, indulgent parents, Vera seems to be improvising her way through the beginning of her life as an adult. Her boyfriend, Ford, is a fast-talking hustler prepared to do anything to make a buck. Aware of Vera's promiscuity, Ford sees a chance to make big money when he meets an aging Italian media mogul, named Count Tommaso, who is enamored of Vera because of her sexuality, her intelligence, and what he perceives as her naiveté. Ford cooks up an idea to pimp Vera out to the Count for $100,000, easy money, if he can only talk Vera into it. Incredibly, she agrees. Everything appears to be going even better than expected.

James Toback seems to be my favorite director of sorts. As I like his ideas and he is a very smart man as in his films they are less it driven and more about the dynamics of relationships and the power of intimacy. I just believe also he tends to get indulgent into his own obsessions that he tries to put on screen and dramatize. That somehow end up flat. --He seems to want to paint on a broad canvas, but more and more his stories seem to be headed with lower budget constraints to one or few locations that seem to lend the tales more to a theatrical Milieu where they would achieve the affect they seem to desire. Rather than feel like some kind of melodrama with a few ploys. This film is the biggest case of that point.

The film has off cameos by celebrities seeming to play versions of themselves or odd pseudonyms. When it is rather obvious who they are. Usually unnecessary, but adds some seasoning to the rather bland film. As they are fun distractions and made to seem random to be just one of those things you encounter and tell all your friends about.

The film has a good soundtrack that unfortunately isn't available. Filled more with jazz, opera and ballads

Frederick Weller tries way too hard to sell the material and his character, but gives It all. So that is worth something

Where as Neve Campbell is never believable. As you would also never believe her character would be with him. So that it is questionable throughout the film, why she would agree to his scheme.

It is also implied that she is a great beauty as well as a great seducer herself as we are given to witness her deduction of a female friend. That isn't as erotic as it wishes to be. Neve Campbell's character is also supposed to be so irresistible that most can barely resist though she has no real personality and she doesn't fit the bill physically. I know we all have our own preferences, but she is hardly a femme fatale. So it is rather strange that she was cast in the role. If they had given her a irresistible quality or appeal I could believe it. Even if it is more about attitude and the way she carries herself. She is so bland and unassuming that there seems to be nothing to her, at least nothing of note.

I found it hard to believe that such a powerful man as the count is made to be. Would have little to no security even when it came to private affairs and rendezvous

I also don't believe he situation would bother Weller's character so much. No matter how controlling he is.

The sex scenes that are shown seem to be hinting at wanting to show more and be sexy. Though like the rest of the film they play as bland and unexciting.

The film feels more exploitive then being an actual thriller.

Again The film feels and plays like it would be better done as a play and wouldn't feel so exotics as or doesn't have to pad out running time with distractions as interludes meant to illustrate deepen the characters but feel more like indulgence I try to legitimize this story.

I saw this film In the theater and thought it would be different than his previous films I saw In theaters BLACK & WHITE and HARVARD MAN. This film had a nice trailer and Toback seemed to be more in his element. Dealing with issues and obsessions.

I guess I was just a glutton for punishment as I have never have had a good record with his films. Yet they continue to fascinate me. As he is definitely talented. His films just seem to go off the deep end at times and pays more attention to his obsessions rather than the story, characters and audience entertainment.

It's like he is making movies for himself and thinks his experimental approach will make up for the films shortcomings. So that if we don't understand to or enjoy it we are philistines. It just makes me wonder of this is the last gasp of a filmmaker and screenwriter whose glory days might be behind him and his interests are not the same as the audience and of the times.

 Grade: F

No comments:

Post a Comment