Monday, January 28, 2008

Love Lies Bleeding...and so, too, does my desire to watch Christian Slater movies. (*****5/10)

Christian Slater once made an excellent movie about a young couple on the run from thugs, called True Romance. It was an excellent movie for a few reasons - Christopher Walken's amazing "eggplant" scene with Dennis Hopper, a cast that included Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rappaport, Tom Sizemore and Chris Penn, some great core performances by Slater and Patricia Arquette, a Sonny Chiba triple-bill at a movie theatre, and a screenplay written by Quentin Tarantino. Love Lies Bleeding is similar in two ways. It involves a young couple on the run from thugs, and it involves Christian Slater. Clearly attempting to cash in on the cult status of True Romance, Love Lies Bleeding stopped thinking after coming up with these two similarities.

Not that the two-lovers-on-the-run theme hasn't already been done to death. Can you really beat Terrence Malick's masterpiece "Badlands"? Or "Bonnie and Clyde", or two Godard masterpieces, "Breathless" and "Pierrot Le Fou"? I will say no. Even True Romance was not in their league. (Although it could have been. I blame Tony "remember when I directed Top Gun" Scott.) And Love Lies Bleeding is considerably lower on the totem pole of lovers-on-the-lam. I'd say, right between that Drew Barrymore made-for-TV remake of "Guncrazy" and the dreadful early Renee Zellweger vehicle "Love and a .45". The two young lovers in this case are played by Brian Geraghty, who is less than average, and Jenna Dewan, who is ridiculously hot but sub-par as well. She looks more cut out for a horror movie, and she may well have believed she was acting in one, with all the panting and the screaming and the running and the car that won't start when you need it to start and the neck-stabbing.

I have researched Jenna Dewan. Because she is so hot. She was in some movies I have managed to avoid - Step Up and Take The Lead. Also some sit-coms I have managed to avoid - the Friends spin-off Joey, and something called Quintuplets. Apparently, her biggest moment of stardom came when she was rumoured to be involved romantically with fellow dancer Justin Timberlake. You see, she is a dancer. Not an actress. And dancers CAN make fine actors - Christopher Walken started out as a dancer (and is still awesome - see Hairspray, the Weapon of Choice video, or...True Romance). But Jenna Dewan is not yet one of them.

Anyway, these kids find a stack of money that isn't theirs, it's Christian Laettner's. I mean Bale's. I mean, Slater's. And he comes after them. He is a DEA agent, you see, but a corrupt and mean one. Slater must have taken over-acting lessons from Gary Oldman in True Romance, because he plays just about the exact same character here. He relentlessly pursues this couple across the country, never explaining to his superiors where he is or why he's there, and the young couple are continually avoiding the embarrassment of telling anyone about this maniac who's after them. If they just turned to the cops and said "hey, I just saw a DEA agent murder a hotel porter", they could have saved themselves a lot of grief. But they don't, and they run, and they become more in love than ever, and eventually they confront Christian Slater and his henchman in what Roger Ebert refers to as a "smoke and fire factory". One of those factory that's all steel gradings and grids, and there is a lot of smoke and fire, but clearly nothing is being made there. If such a factory did exist in real life, and all that was going on inside, there would likely be a product coming out somewhere, and there would also be employees working inside.

But I digress. The point I am trying to make here is that this entire movie is a cheap ploy to get people to rent it simply based on the poster or the DVD case. Christian Slater? Young lovers on the run? I saw a movie like that once, and it was really good! Yes, you have. But this one isn't. Leave it on the rental shelf, and pick up that other direct-to-DVD movie where Sam Neill appears to be riding a dinosaur.

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